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The War in Waziristan:

Week 1 Analysis of
Operation Rah-e-Nijat
By Reza Jan and Charlie Szrom

• August 6, 2008: Pakistan begins a military operation in Bajaur Agency
• April 28, 2009: Pakistan begins operation in Swat to clear militants led by Maulana
Fazlullah, low-level violence continues up to present after initial clearing
• May 17: President Ali Asif Zardari declares, “We’re going to go into Waziristan.”
• June 28: Hafiz Gul Bahadur, Taliban commander in North Waziristan, ambushes convoy
and September 2006 truce
• July 16: Infantry and armor arrives in Miranshah , North Waziristan and Tank district
• August 5: Beitullah Mehsud killed in drone strike near Makin, South Waziristan
• August 22: Hakimullah Mehsud declared TTP Leader
• September 22: Large clashes between militants and security forces in North Waziristan
• October 5: TTP attacks UNWFP office in Islamabad
• October 9: Car bomb explodes in Peshawar’s Khyber bazaar
• October 10: General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Pakistani military attacked
• October 15: Simultaneous attacks on law enforcement facilities in Lahore
• October 16: Government meets and decides to launch operation at behest of Pakistani
military head General Ashfeq Parvez Kayani, who urges the commencement to respond to
recent terror attacks
• October 17: Operation Rah-e-Nijat (Path to Deliverance) begins 2
Pakistani Forces in Area of Operations
Ground Forces
Total: 36,000-40,000 soldiers
Regulars: 28,000-30,000 men – two divisions from XI Corps, which is based in
Peshawar and commanded by Lt. Gen. Mohammad Masood Aslam
7th Infantry Division, operating in North Waziristan and commanded by Maj.
Gen. Naweed Zaman; home base is Mardan (NWFP, NW of Islamabad)
Likely involved in the northern front of the operation, between Razmak and
9th Infantry Division, operating in South Waziristan and commanded by Maj.
Gen. Khalid Rabbani; home base is Kohat (NWFP, not far from N. Waziristan)
Likely split between the two southern fronts of the operation, on the west
side at Wana / Shanai north to Sharwangi and on the east side at Jandola
north to Spinkai Raghzai, Kotkai and Sara Rogha

Frontier Corps (FC): 8,000-10,000 men – two “corps” (3,000-5,000 each) likely drawn
from local units. Frontier Corps headquartered in Peshawar and commanded by Maj.
Gen. Tariq Khan.

Special Forces: 500 commandos from the Special Services Group (SSG)

Aviation: 31st and 32nd Army Aviation Squadron (helicopters), whose home base is in3
Mardan; portion based in Miranshah (26 miles from theater)
Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
Hakimullah Mehsud
• Declared leader of the TTP on August 22; was close friend of Beitullah Mehsud, who
founded the TTP in December 2007 and was killed in an August 5 drone strike
• An infamous Taliban operational commander who masterminded a 2007 kidnapping of
300+ Pakistani soldiers, a 2008 campaign targeting convoys supplying NATO forces, and
a March 2009 attack against the Sri Lanka cricket team, among other actions
• Reported to remain in area commanding Taliban forces

Qari Hussain
• TTP suicide bomber trainer; was considered possible successor to Beitullah Mehsud
• Military has specifically targeted him in recent operation, with the military press
service singling out Kotkai as Hussain’s hometown in the battle for the town
• Reported to be in conflict zone commanding Taliban forces

Wali-ur Rehman
• Administers TTP finances; was considered possible successor to Beitullah Mehsud

Maulvi Faqir Muhammad

• TTP commander in Bajaur; briefly declared himself overall TTP leader before endorsing
Hakimullah, has not appeared to play role in this conflict beyond raising funds
Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
Organization Chart
Mehsud (Leader)

Azam Tariq Qari Hussain

(Spokesman) TTP “Staff” (Suicide bomber

TTP Regional

Maulvi Faqir Omar Khalid Wali-ur Rehman

Muhammad (Mohmand) (Finances / South
(Bajaur) Waziristan)

Maulana Fazlullah Tehrik-e Nafaz-e

(Swat) Sufi Muhammad
(TNSM) 5
Other Players
Hafiz Gul Bahadur (North Waziristan)
• Has had on-again, off-again peace deal with the Pakistani government since
September 2006; broke latest ceasefire on June 28 with attack on Pakistani forces due
to frustration with drone strikes and Pakistani military operations in his territory
• Nazir and Bahadur have remained neutral in this operation, allowing Pakistani forces
to transit their territory in exchange for fewer bombings and patrols in their areas

Maulvi Nazir Ahmad (South Waziristan)

• Like Bahadur, has allied with both Pakistani government and TTP in the past, though
directed less violence towards the government this year; has particular vendetta
towards Uzbek fighters, some of whom have allied with the TTP while alienating locals

Turkistan Bhittani Group and Abdullah Mehsud Group

• “Pro-government” militant groups; Bhittani has stated he is willing to fight TTP
alongside government forces in this operation. Misbahuddin Mehsud leads the
Abdullah Mehsud Group, which consists of anti-TTP Mehsud tribesmen.

Haqqani Network, Mullah Omar / Quetta Shura Taliban

• Haqqani commander Mullah Sangeen, responsible for the July kidnapping of
American soldier Bowe Bergdahl, rumored to have sent 1500 fighters to the fight;
otherwise no reports on any role so far from these players. 6
Areas of Militant Influence


North Waziristan

South Waziristan

Initial Situation

Sara Rogha

Mehsud tribal region –

main area of TTP influence

Initial Situation
Triangle represents center of TTP
Makin leadership and control and area
where insurgency is most virulent


Sara Rogha
Makin, Ladha and
Sara Rogha: Main TTP

Initial Situation

Razmak, Jandola, Shakai and

Wana: Locations of pre-
positioned Pakistani military
forces to be employed in
Operation Rah-e-Nijat



Operation Timeline Days 1-3
•October 17, Day 1: Operation Rah-e-Nijat (Path to Deliverance) begins as Pakistani
forces move into the Mehsud heartland in South Waziristan that forms the Tehrik-i
Taliban Pakistan (TTP) stronghold; forces move in three directions: 1) south from
Razmak in North Waziristan across the border towards Makin (the northern front); 2)
northeast from the Shakai Valley and Wana towards Tiarza and Sharwangi (the
western front); and 3) northwest from Jandola towards Spinkai Raghzai and Kotkai (the
eastern front).

• October 18, Day 2: Forces on northern and western fronts meet strong resistance
while eastern front troops advance relatively quickly; forces on the western front
bypass TTP-held town of Khaisura; military destroys six 12.7mm anti-aircraft batteries
that had been harassing helicopters.

•October 19, Day 3: On the eastern front, Pakistani forces surround Kotkai, the alleged
hometown of Qari Hussain, by seizing peaks around the valley; on the western front,
Pakistani jets bomb ammunition caches in caves between Makin and Kaniguram; on
the northern front, Pakistani forces secure the heights south and southwest of

Operation Timeline Days 4-6
• October 20, Day 4: On the eastern front, progress slows as the TTP recapture town of
Kotkai, previously held by the military; some military units bypass Kotkai to move
further up the road towards Sara Rogha; on the western front, forces consolidate
control of Sharwangi and clear Khaisura; on the northern front, the army clears
Nawazkhot and moves toward Makin.

•October 21, Day 5: Forces secure more villages around Kotkai - where homes of
Hakimullah and Qari Hussain are destroyed - while resistance continues there; heavy
clashes near Makin and Razmak; helicopters and artillery attack TTP forces near
Afghan border and near Makin and Ladha; IDPs fleeing the fighting are trapped
between the TTP and Pakistani forces.

•October 22, Day 6: Pakistani military takes rocket fire at Razmak as it secures
positions on the edge of Makin; military extends its perimeter past Sharwangi, sets up
checkpoint at Torwam; Tor Ghundai hill secured, heavy clashes between military and
TTP forces forcing TTP withdrawal from hill-top positions

Axes of advance


Sara Rogha



offensive Jandola

Western Front: Wana/Shakai – Sharwangi
Days 1-3
October 17, Day 1:
•From the southwest through Tiarza and Shakai, fighting reported in Tiarza, Sharwangi

October 18, Day 2:

•Security forces advancing into South Waziristan from the southwest met strong
resistance at the TTP held Khasura town and continued to face resistance in
Sharwangi. Khasura was bypassed, to be cleared later (on day 4). Heavy fighting
reported at Sharwangi

October 19, Day 3:

•On the Shakai-Ladha Axis the security forces are consolidating positions at Sharwangi
•Ammunition dumps and abandoned gun positions have been found and destroyed in

Western Front: Wana/Shakai – Sharwangi
October 20, Day 4:
Days 4-6
•On the Shakai-Ladha Axis the security forces are still consolidating positions at
Sharwangi but are extending their control. They are also clearing the village of
Khasura which was bypassed on day 2 of the operation

October 21, Day 5:

•Security forces have cleared Khaisura village (bypassed on day 2) and are
conducting a search and clearance operation in Sharwangi. Military forces have
been consolidated at Wuzi Sar and Gurgura Sar
•The security forces used Helicopter gunships to attack TTP near the Pakistan and
Afghanistan border. This comes as NATO has closed its border posts on the
Afghanistan side of South Waziristan
•Militants launched an operation west of Sharwangi, but repealed by military

October 22, Day 6:

•Military forces are extending their security perimeter North of Sharwangi – and
securing Gurgura Sar. Eleven militants were killed, several injured, and one
Pakistani solider KIA. Checkpoint has been set up at road Torwam-Sharwangi for
patrolling the area. Since 2007, militants have controlled the Torwam Bridge linking
Torwam and Ladha. Military forces have regained control of the Torwam Bridge 16
Advance towards Ladha

Boya Narai

Wuzi Sar



Advance towards Ladha
Advance towards Ladha
Day 1: October 17

Operation launched at 3:00 AM; troops surge towards Boya Narai

Tiarza and Sharwangi from Wana and Shakai; resistance
reported in both areas.

Wuzi Sar

Gurgura Sar

Advance towards Ladha
Day 2: October 18

Army moves to secure hill features like Boya Narai

and Wuzi Sar, subduing resistance and capturing an
AA gun. Clashes continue in and around Sharwangi.

Boya Narai

Wuzi Sar


Forces move to take Khaisura but, facing resistance, pull

back to clear the town later.

Advance towards Ladha
Day 3: October 19

Forces continue to consiolidate positions in

Sharwangi and around Boya Narai and Wuzi
Sar. Clashes continue in Sharwangi.

Boya Narai


Wuzi Sar

Gurgura Sar

Advance towards Ladha
Day 4: October 20

Forces consolidate and extend

perimeter around Sharwangi.
Boya Narai


Wuzi Sar

Gurgura Sar

Forces return to clear Khaisura.

Advance towards Ladha
Day 5: October 21

Army maintains control over Sharwangi and

moves to clear and consolidate Gurgura Sar.

Boya Narai


Wuzi Sar

Gurgura Sar

Army clears Khaisura and attempts to link up with

Tiarza fort. Clashes reproted during clearing operation.

Advance towards Ladha
Day 6: October 22
Forces begin extending perimeter north of
Sharwangi having secured Gurgura Sar. Army
repulses an ambush on its position at Boya Narai.

Boya Narai

Soldiers take control fo Torwam

bridge and start patrolling
between Torwam and Sharwangi.

Wuzi Sar

Gurgura Sar

Northern Front: Razmak-Makin
Days 1-3
October 17, Day 1:
•Forces moving from the north through Razmak, fighting currently reported in Makin,
Razmak, three soldiers killed in North Waziristan near Razmak

October 18, Day 2:

•Security forces advancing from the north were met with resistance in Nawazkot.
•Heavy fighting has also been reported at Makin between the TTP and Pakistani
security forces

October 19, Day 3:

•Forces are also consolidating in the north near Razmak, have come under rocket
attack from Makin, one soldier was wounded

Northern Front: Razmak-Makin
Days 4-6
October 20, Day 4:
•The ISPR did not offer an update on forces coming in from the north in Razmak,
which were last reported as moving towards Makin

October 21, Day 5:

•From the north heavy clashes have been reported near Razmak and Makin
•Government forces also continue to use helicopter gunships and artillery to attack
militant positions in Makin

October 22, Day 6:

•Pakistani military have set up blocking positions on roads leading from Makin
•Six rockets were fired by militants at Razmak camp, killing one solider and injuring

Advance to Makin


Advance to Makin

Advance to Makin
Day 1: October 17

Army advances in the direction of

Makin; IED causes Pakistani
casualties near Razmak.

Advance to Makin
Day 2: October 18

Army reports resistance near Kotkai; secures

strategic heights and areas around Razmak.

Advance to Makin
Day 3: October 19

Army consolidates areas South and South

West of Razmak. Casualties caused by
rocket fire from Makin.

Advance to Makin
Day 4: October 20

No news update.

Advance to Makin
Day 5: October 21

Heavy clashes reported in

Nawazkot and Makin areas.

Advance to Makin
Day 6: October 22

Forces block main roads leading

from Makin. Casualties
reported after Razmak base
receives enemy rocket fire.

Eastern Front: Jandola – Kotkai
Days 1-3
October 17, Day 1:
•Troops move towards Kotkai, Spinkai Raghzai, Sarwekai ; fighting reported in Spinkai
Raghzai and Mandana areas
•Troops reportedly capture Spinkai Raghzai and Ghazi areas and set up checkpoint on
route to Kotkai
•Aerial bombardment reported in Kotkai; one soldier dead in near Jandola in IED

October 18, Day 2:

•Army says it is moving slowly due to heavy presence of IEDs

October 19, Day 3:

•Security forces have surrounded Kotkai, the home of Hakimullah Mehsud and Qari
•Late Monday night security forces move into and secured Kotkai
•Ammunition dumps and abandoned gun positions have been found and destroyed in
Spin Ghara, near Kotkai
Eastern Front: Jandola – Kotkai
Days 4-6
October 20, Day 4:
•TTP forces launch a counter offensive and retake Kotkai Tuesday morning. Air force
responds by conducting air strikes on TTP positions in and around the town
•Security forces are consolidating positions around Kaskai and Shishanwam and
fighting militants who have dug in the surrounding hills
•The government establishes five IDP camps in Dera Ismail Khan and one in Tank

October 21, Day 5:

•Intense fighting continues in Kotkai. Army says it demolished houses of Hakimullah
and Qari Hussain. Claims fifteen militants and three soldiers have been killed. TTP
claims that forty soldiers were killed at Kotkai
•Security forces have secured Malk Shahi and are undertaking clearance operations in
Mizowam, checkpoint has been established at Manzai Kili, and forces are
strengthening positions at Spinkai. Six foreign militants have been killed in Sara Rogha

October 22, Day 6:

•Tor Ghundai, east of Kotkai, has been secured by military forces. Military operations
caused heavy casualties on militants requiring them to pull back from their defenses.
Thirteen militants have been reportedly killed. Systematic operation has begun to 36
secure Shishamwam spurs and caves. “Mizo-Wam has been fully secured.”
Advance to Sara Rogha
Sara Rogha


Advance to Sara Rogha


Spinkai Raghzai

Advance to Sara Rogha
Day 1: October 17

Forces move from Jandola towards Spinkai

Raghzai, capturing the town later in the
Jandola evening. Casualties reportred from an IED
attack close to Jandola.

Spinkai Raghzai

Advance to Sara Rogha
Day 2: October 18

Jandola Army clears area upto Kund; sets

up checkpoint on route to Kotkai.

Spinkai Raghzai

Battle for Kotkai
Day 3: October 19

Spinkai Raghzai Military envelopes Kotkai, reaching Kund, Kaskai, Tor

Tarakai Ghundai and Shishanwam hills overlooking the town.

Spin Ghar
Malik Shahi

Battle for Kotkai
Day 3: October 19

Spinkai Raghzai
Mandana During the night of Day 3, forces Kund
enter and take Kotkai.
Spin Ghar
Malik Shahi

Battle for Kotkai
Day 4: October 20

Forces clear Tarakai ridge

Spinkai Raghzai

Spin Ghar
Malik Shahi

On the morning of Day 4, TTP

forces counterattack and force
the army from the town.
Military extends its control over
Shishanwam and Kaskai while
battling militants dug-in in the
surrounding hills.

Battle for Kotkai
Day 5: October 21
Security forces extend perimeter
around Spinkai Raghzai.
Spinkai Raghzai
Tarakai Military takes Malik Shahi and reports fierce
clashes with militants in surrounding hills as Kund

Spin Ghar it continues to secure Tor Ghundai.

Malik Shahi

Army destroys homes of Hakimullah

Mehsud and Qari Hussain in Kotkai.

Battle for Kotkai
Day 6: October 22

Spinkai Raghzai

Spin Ghar
Malik Shahi

Military reports fierce clashes as it

completely secures Tor Ghundai and
extends control over Shishanwam.

Current Extent of Advance


Sara Rogha


Day 1 - 2 Day 3

Day 4 Day 5

Day 6 Day 7

Internally Displaced Persons
Estimated total Mehsud population:
Low: 285,700
Main hubs for IDPs: Tank,
High: 333,330
Dera Ismail Khan, Miranshah,

Total IDPs to date:

Population remaining:
Low: 85,700 to 100,000 Registered IDPs:
High: 114,280 to 133,330
120,000 to 150,000

Numbers based on media, relief

organization and government
reporting, assumptions include
reporting of IDPs is correct and ISPR
reporting of percentage of IDPs
remaining is accurate.

Force: Population Ratio
Estimated population remaining:
85,700 to 133,330
Total Pakistani forces: 36,000-40,000 During Op: between 1:2 and 1:4

Long term: between 1:7 to 1:9

(compared to traditional COIN ratio of

Assumptions: All troops involved in theater, and all
troops stay in theater long term. The Waziristan
operation does not appear right now to be a
counterinsurgency (COIN) operation in whole; parts
of the operation do have COIN aspects and the
operation may become a wholly COIN operation in
the medium and long terms.

Air Operations, Surveillance, and
• TTP 12.7mm anti-aircraft fire harassed Pakistani helicopters initially forcing the
Pakistani military to rely on air support solely from high-altitude jets. Since October
19, however, Pakistani forces have eliminated or captured numerous 12.7mm
batteries, allowing them to use helicopters more freely.

•Potential drone strike assistance from American forces.

•American forces have lent surveillance drones to provide Pakistani forces with real-
time aerial surveillance of the conflict zone, as well as signal intercepts of
communications from militants in South Waziristan.

•Pakistani military has also jammed cell phone and other communication services in
much of South Waziristan and other neighboring areas.

Information Operations
•TTP successes
• IO Actions
• Stating that the TTP is suffering few losses
• Disputing government claims of military casualties as far too low
• Says TTP has pushed back government from towns
• Factors that contribute to success narrative / win sympathy
• Retaking Kotkai, and slowing of Pakistani forces across theater
• International Islamic University bombing; closing of schools and protest following
bombing show government weakness and Taliban operational capacity despite
Operation Rah-e-Nijat
• IDP problems continue as registration centers face overload and government
response appears initially unsympathetic
• UN WFP offices in Peshawar closed on Oct 21 after Oct 9 bombing
• Reports of Qari Hussain and Hakimullah Mehsud personally commanding fight
•Government successes
•IO Actions
•Leaflets dropped with Kayani statement urging locals to turn against TTP
•NWFP governor appeals to the Mehsuds, offering aid to IDPs and stating that the
government fight was with the Taliban, not everyday Mehsuds
•Factors that contribute to success narrative
• Alleged high kills-to-losses ratio
• Initial operation phase quickly and completely surrounds TTP stronghold area
• Destruction of Hakimullah Mehsud and Qari Hussain homes 53
Effects on War in Afghanistan
• Possibility of Afghan Taliban coming to aid the TTP with supplies, personnel, etc.

• Possibility of TTP leadership and fighters fleeing across the border into Afghanistan.
• No reportage yet of large numbers of TTP fighters moving to Afghanistan.
• Most likely move would be into southern Paktika province, given proximity and
limited NATO force presence there. Exfiltrating to Paktika would be difficult,
however, given rough terrain between conflict area in Waziristan and the border
as well as sparse, harsh terrain in southern Paktika itself.

• NATO forces have reportedly abandoned four “posts” on Afghanistan side of the
border near South Waziristan.

• The Pakistani army has set up five bases on the border, and reports that it has “taken
control” of the Ingalmall mountain range.

•Pakistani military forces have used helicopter gunships (Cobras) to attack Taliban
positions near the Afghan border (10/21).

Recent Drone Strikes in Waziristan
•Oct 21: Near Miranshah, North Waziristan : Three reported killed possibly including
Afghan Al-Qaeda-linked militant Abu Saeed Al-Masri

•Oct 15: Dande Darpa Khel near Miranshah, North Waziristan: Four killed

•Oct 1: Mir Ali, North Waziristan: Six dead (reportedly Arabs killed)

•Sept 29: Sara Rogha, South Waziristan: Six killed

•Sept 29: Miranshah, North Waziristan: Twelve killed

•Sept 28: Drone strike misses target

•Sept 24: Near Mir Ali, North Waziristan: strike reportedly targeted a Haqqani hideout:
Ten killed

•Sept 14: Khushal Tori Khail near Miranshah, North Waziristan: Eight killed

Front Assessment
•Ground Operations:
• Northern front: Pakistani military advances up to and sets conditions just north
of TTP stronghold of Makin.
• Western front: Pakistani military seizes ground quickly, facing manageable
• Eastern front: Pakistani military faces significant resistance at Kotkai.

• Air Operations: Pakistani military quickly achieves freedom of maneuver for both
fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.

• Intelligence and Surveillance: Pakistani military dominance due to drones and signals
intercept lent by Americans and Pakistani jamming of communications in combat area

• Information Operations: Mixed successes on both sides

Key Conclusions
• Effective Pakistani military strategy
• Methodical – slow advance with a force that outnumbers the enemy. Difficult towns
(Kotkai, Makin) are encircled through control of surrounding peaks then cleared later. Jets
with precision munitions eliminate 12.7mm anti-aircraft guns after initial TTP harassment
of helicopters, allowing close helicopter support.
• The Pakistani military has learned lessons from its 2004 incursion into Waziristan and
2008 Bajaur operation: they are seizing the high ground to control valleys.
• Pakistanis employing effective route clearance packages to limit damage from IEDs.
• TTP resistance strong
• Retook Kotkai and have managed to contest dominance over eastern front.
• Have managed to slow, or at least check, Pakistani advance on other fronts.
• TTP ability to coordinate spectacular attacks outside Waziristan remains intact (Islamabad
Int’l University, assassination of army officer in Islamabad 10/22, 10/23 Attock, Mohmand,
Peshawar attacks), although recent operations may have drained suicide bomber / attacker
pool and attacks may therefore not continue at current pace and scale, given that it will
take weeks to regenerate suicide bombers after the current force is depleted.
• IDPs could be a long-term problem if the Pakistanis adopt a counterinsurgency strategy
• At least 200,000 IDPs currently.
• Many have vacation homes in the NWFP to the east of Waziristan.
• Some IDPs unable to flee conflict zone, caught between government and TTP forces
• Government has set up IDP registration centers, which have been overloaded.
• Government has also sent conflicting messages on whether it is inflicting “collective
punishment” (which is an accepted practice in the region) on the Mehsud tribe. 57