KARACHI — The significance of the army breakthrough into Sararogha, a known Taliban stronghold in South Waziristan, cannot be underestimated, said the director-general of the Pakistan military’s Inter-Services Public Relations organisation, Ather Abbas.
“Army control of Sararogha is one of the major achievements of ongoing military operations against the Taliban,” he said. Government forces earlier took control of two other Taliban strongholds, Karama and Kanigurram. The army made clear ahead of its operation that it was launched only against militants in Waziristan and not against the Mehsud tribes there, he explained.
Abbas said before the ground assault that the aerial bombing by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and drone attacks in Waziristan had destroyed the communications system and network of the Taliban in the region.
Looking ahead, Abbas said, “Ladha and Makeen are the next key targets of the military operation,” he added. Makeen is the headquarters of the Taliban and the army could face tough resistance there, but it is determined to eliminate the Taliban from South Waziristan by mid-December.”
The Taliban’s eviction from Sararogha, Karama and Kanigurram is an important victory for the army and will give more encouragement in defeating terrorists in Makeen and other important hideouts in South Waziristan. On Nov. 4, the military were able to enter Ladha, said NWFP security expert Brig. Mahmood Shah. After obtaining control of Makeen, the centre of Taliban power will be under severe threat, he added.
“Guerilla war is expected in the surroundings of Makeen,” said Shamim Shahid, a Peshawar-based security analyst. The army should try its best to complete the operation before January 2010, or extreme winter conditions in the hilly battlefields will make aerial and ground assaults very difficult to implement, he said.