Sunday, 22 April 2012

US occupies Pakistan’s Miran Shah in effort to dismantle Haqqani group

The US has finally acted. Miran Shah, headquarters of the Taliban's Haqqani group, is now under US occupation. The American flag flutters at a temporary US base in the North Waziristan town.

Emboldened by its successful 'intervention' to kill Bin Laden, the US has decided 'enough is enough.' No more threats or cajoling by US Central Command, ISAF, Panetta or any other high ranking US official.
April 22 early morning, soldiers from the US 101 Airborne were inserted into Miran Shah with orders to secure the city center until reinforcements from the neighbouring Afghan town of Khost arrive and secure the Khost – Miran Shah main road. It is understood that up to 1,500 US soldiers will ultimately be based in Miran Shah, with most arriving from Afghanistan within the next three days.
An aerial shot of the Pakistani town of Miran Shah, North Waziristan
An unnamed source in the Department of Defense said, "This is not a temporary move. Following recent high profile attacks on Kabul it became essential for ISAF to secure a forward base and deny the outlawed Haqqani group operating space and flexibility."
US troops have already begun repairing an old World War Two British airfield so as to permit C-17 transport planes to use the facility. A fort occupying the town's high ground and manned by several hundred Pakistani Frontier Constabulary paramilitary troops has been left untouched.
Despite the incursion, US officials are hoping the Pakistani reaction will be tempered. "US troops have strict orders not to engage Pakistani security personnel in fire fights. Efforts for a commanders meeting between the two sides are on. We hope the Pakistanis understand this is not a move against Pakistan but against terrorism – our joint enemy."

The US appeal for rationality will likely fall on deaf ears in Pakistan.
The recent Bin Laden raid on Abbotabad, the 2010 slaying of several civilians by a CIA operative in Lahore and frequent US drone strikes in the tribal areas have soured Pakistan - US ties almost beyond repair. Anti-Americanism runs higher than at virtually any time in the last two decades – and this is in a country which burnt down the US Embassy in 1979.

It is yet unclear how Pakistan's security establishment will react to the US provocation. Sunday is a holiday in Pakistan. Most in the nation's capital Islamabad are still unaware of the US incursion.
However, it is sure to provide more ammunition to Islamists within and outside the military establishment.
A map of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, including the location of Miran Shah
US officials remain vague on their response if Pakistan's military starts covertly supporting armed anti-US lashkars (tribal militias) opposed to the expansion of the US presence from Afghanistan to Pakistan.
However, the US does seem to have prepared a diplomatic strategy to seize the initiative from Pakistan.

According to a confidential briefing, the State Department has agreed to support Afghanistan's contention that the Durand Line drawn in the 1890s is not an international border between the two nations. Additionally, Pakistani diplomats will be told in no uncertain terms that the US will support Baloch nationalist efforts for an independent state if 'push comes to shove.'
When asked about the US move, Pakistani security analyst Mian Iqbal told TGMS, "Undoubtedly, Obama is playing to his domestic gallery with US presidential elections around the corner. However, for Pakistan this is a disaster. At best, the country will erupt into violence for months, if not years. At worst, this is the beginning of end of Pakistan as we know it today. The Pakistani state, including the military, does not have the capacity to control the situation anymore. The world must be prepared for a manifold increase in global Islamic terrorism – it is the only weapon left for Pakistanis to salvage their tattered self-respect."

One hopes that US military strategists have evaluated all possible outcomes of the new, radical US strategy to quell violence in Afghanistan. Otherwise, it may just be further military escalation of an already unwinnable war.


Alright, so the events described above did not occur, at least not yet. It describes a fictional (though entirely possible) scenario devised by the Grand Moofti.

Pakistan is fast moving into the global 'doghouse' – the same place the country found itself during its last decade of democracy: the 1990s. In such an environment, anything is possible and one cannot count on rationality from any actors, including the US.


Imran is a business and management consultant. Through his work at Deodar Advisors, Imran improves the profitability of businesses operating in Singapore and the region. He can be reached at 

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