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Pakistan vs. Taliban

by AFP
A. Majeed—AFP

A. Majeed—AFP

A chronology of the military operations launched in the country’s northern areas after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s military has launched a major assault on the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militants in the lawless northwest, a week after a brazen insurgent attack on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi.

The Army in 2002 moved into the northwest, where foreign militants had taken refuge after the U.S.-led invasion of neighboring Afghanistan, but did not mount an assault until 2004. Repeated offensives since then have had some success in stopping militants from making territorial gains, but have failed to end a Taliban-led domestic insurgency that has claimed nearly 7,000 lives since 2007.

Here is a chronology of Army assaults in the tribal areas and elsewhere in the northwest:

March 2004

Pakistan mounts its first offensive against suspected Al Qaeda militants and their supporters, in the South Waziristan tribal area near the Afghan border. The U.S. begins using drones to target Al Qaeda leaders in the area.

The operation ends after a peace deal in 2005 but tensions rise again in 2007 after the Lal Masjid in Islamabad is raided, leading to the creation of the TTP.

The TTP is an umbrella militant group that proclaims loyalty to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar but has its own command structure.

October 2007

Pakistan launches an operation to clear out Taliban and other linked militants from the Swat valley after they impose a harsh brand of shariah law there. It is later dubbed the First Battle of Swat and ends in a much-criticized peace deal that allows the insurgents to claw back power.

June 2008

The Army launches an offensive in the Khyber Agency after militant group Lashkar-e-Islam, led by warlord Mangal Bagh, joins hands with the TTP. Mangal Bagh escapes to the remote Tirah valley. A fresh assault is launched in 2011, displacing tens of thousands. The operation there continues with curfew in parts of the district.

August 2008

The Army launches an operation in Bajaur, the northernmost tribal region. It is widely considered an operational success but ends with a peace deal with Faqir Mohammed, the Taliban’s main commander in the area.

May 2009

The military is forced to launch a second operation in Swat after militants led by Maulana Fazlullah stage a comeback and capture fresh territory extending up to the district of Buner, some 100 kilometers northwest of Islamabad. Pakistan defeats the militants and kills several senior commanders as well as forcing Fazlullah to flee across the border to Afghanistan. This is considered the most successful military operation to date, with the Army holding onto its gains.

June 2009

The Army launches an operation in South Waziristan, at the time the main bastion of the TTP and home to the Mehsud tribe from which they derived their leadership. In August the group’s chief Baitullah Mehsud is killed in a U.S. drone attack and replaced by Hakimullah Mehsud.

November 2009

Troops begin an offensive in Mohmand Agency, where homegrown Taliban and some foreign fighters are launching repeated attacks from across the border in Afghanistan. The operation kills scores of militants and forces others to flee to eastern Afghanistan.

March 2011

In March 2011 Pakistan begins offensives in the central tribal district of Orakzai, spreading to Kurram by June. Both Kurram and Orakzai are now relatively more peaceful than in the past.

Pakistan again launches a limited offensive in South Waziristan the same year, forcing Hakimullah Mehsud to escape toward North Waziristan. He continues to lead the TTP until November 2013, when he is killed by a U.S. drone strike and replaced by Swat’s Maulana Fazlullah.

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