Pak army on horns of dilemma over how to tackle Taliban in Waziristan

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Washington, June 19 (ANI): As Pakistan looks to open new fronts against the Taliban and other extremists, and particularly against the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) chief Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan, some vital questions, which have emerged from the Swat offensive, have remained unanswered.

With the Pakistan Army preparing to launch a fresh offensive in South Waziristan, it still remains unclear, as to for how long the troops would be asked to stay in the valley to maintain peace and order there.

The longer they stay in the region, the extra burden they would put on themselves in terms of civilian administration, analysts believe.

According to Moeed Yusuf, a security analyst at Boston University, the Pakistan Army could get bogged down if it is saddled with holding territories regained in Swat and Buner.

"The question that remains to be seen is how much they (army) are going to hold and how much are they going to be asked to do in terms of civilian administration," The Christian Science Monitor quoted Yusuf, as saying.

Yusuf raised apprehensions saying that the army's capability could suffer if asked to do more in civilian administration.

"The more they are asked to do in civilian administration, it puts pressure on the military, from doing much more," he said.

This could adversely affect the government's goals that it had set-up for South Waziristan, the report said.

Moreover, a military offensive in the tribal region and the Taliban's home would be much more different and difficult than the one in Swat.

With tougher terrains and more deep rooted insurgents, it is uncertain whether the military would be able to succeed in its aims in the region, the report added.

It is also been speculated that the Pakistan Army, instead of crushing Mehsud's network in the region, would instead redirect the Taliban towards Afghanistan.

"An ideal endgame for the Pakistan military may be to push enough back on Baitullah Mehsud that he continues to focus on his support base in South Waziristan and he turns westward into Afghanistan as his primal area," the report quoted Seth Jones, an analyst at the RAND Corp, as saying.

Jones said there were two valid reasons why army would try to push the Taliban towards Afghanistan.

"First, there are elements within the military that support the Taliban fight in Afghanistan. Second, past fighting in the mountainous tribal belt, including most recently in Bajaur, has proved extremely tough," he said. (ANI)

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