Kashmiri’s death only a small US victory: report | Pakistan Today

Kashmiri’s death only a small US victory: report

The details surrounding the apparent death of top al Qaeda militant Ilyas Kashmiri in a drone attack late on Friday show a short-term win for the US approach toward Pakistan, but little long-term headway in the war, Christian Science Monitor said in a report on Sunday.
Kashmiri was believed to have helped plot attacks ranging from the 2008 Mumbai massacre to an effort to strike US defence firm Lockheed-Martin, which manufactures the unmanned drone planes. Interior Minister Rehman Malik said he was “98 percent sure” that Kashmiri was dead. His death would appear to be the latest fruit of US persistence, pushing onward despite Pakistani demonstrations against drones, bruised relations with the Pakistan Army and an American public sceptic of continued engagement in the country.
But experts said the efforts to chip away at the most wanted list and chase militants from one region to the next bore high costs and were not yet putting militants out of business. “Militancy has decentralised and now they have come to the point where even if the leader is dead, the network still persists,” Safiullah Gul, a senior journalist in Waziristan told CSM. Locals in the area said Kashmiri arrived on Thursday, Gul told CSM, from the neighbouring North Waziristan.
The militants had started moving out of North Waziristan as the US ups pressure on Pakistan to start an offensive there, Gul said. “The Afghan War’s endgame is playing out in Pakistan. The US strategy has been to target militant leaders with drones and press the Pakistani military to remove borderland sanctuaries. The military has tried to resist both, whipping up anti-US sentiment in an effort to preserve some militants to influence affairs in Afghanistan.
Both are trying to enter a larger Afghan peace process with the best possible facts on the battlefield,” the CSM said. But as the US ups pressure and street support for the resistance lessens in Pakistan, the military over the past week has indicated openness to a limited offensive in North Waziristan. On the other hand, the long conflict is leaving scars. Dr Khalid Mufti, a psychiatrist based in Peshawar, told CSM the people in the country’s northwest were experiencing a “mental health crisis”.
“Some of that is due to poverty, some from the trauma of terrorist attacks and military strikes. Drones are recurring delusion among some patients: Look, the drones are coming again!” the doctor said. Although some drones strikes are precise, they still ruin innocent lives. Ajab Noor, a 10-year-old boy, lost his father in a 2008 drone attack. He says his father hitched a ride home from a trip to sell his car when a drone destroyed the vehicle he was in.
“They were not fighters who were along with my father, they were civilians,” he says. “After that, I couldn’t continue school because we were poor,” he revealed to CSM. However, a number in the northwest does support the drone strikes, seeing them as the only serious challenge to militants. There is deep scepticism about the military operations being serious effort to crush the militants. “Over the past week, at least two checkpoints have been removed from roads inside the region, according to two journalists and a local resident,” CSM said.
“We saw the same thing before the [South Waziristan] operation, when American pressure said it had to start,” a local now living in Peshawar said. “They opened up all the roads to allow all the militants to go.” “In North Waziristan, the removed check-posts make it easier for some militants to reach Bannu, a city in the settled areas of Pakistan,” CSM added. “The military has been reluctant to tackle North Waziristan because the region is home to allied Afghan militants, particularly the Haqqani Network. Mixed in with the Haqqanis, however, are groups that are enemies of the military, including militants from the Mehsud tribe, foreign fighters, and al Qaeda,” it said.
Years of offensives have seen militants shift from one tribal agency to the next, evading any sort of Waterloo. Just last week, a group of several hundred militants evicted from Swat by the military in 2009 crossed over from Afghanistan into Dir. The military points out that it cannot completely seal off the mountainous terrain, vast wildernesses, and porous borders. Gul agrees. “It’s not possible to man every area in North or South Waziristan. For that they would need 300,000 to 400,000 military personnel.”
Military spokesman Gen Athar Abbas said the Dir incident showed the army was slowly closing down the space for militants to move. “The more you enhance control over your lost territory, the more space is lost to them,” General Abbas told CSM.



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