Uzbekistan teaches children about healthy lifestyle
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa helps flood victims
Kyrgyzstan to build Bishkek-Osh highway
Karachi authorities restore order to Lyari
Deaths of militant leaders a blow to insurgency
Separate attacks have killed 10 key militants in North and South Waziristan recently, leaving the Pakistani insurgent groups at a loss, officials say.
By Zahir Shah
PESHAWAR – The Pakistani insurgency has suffered a number of losses lately in the war on terror. While some analysts suggest this is bad news for the militancy, the real effect the militants' deaths will have on the law-and-order situation isn't so clear cut.
Although most analysts agree that the losses will ultimately hurt the Pakistani militant organisations, some predict a greater challenge for security forces as the area copes with any impending fallout.
Recent attacks have killed 10 key militants in North and South Waziristan, according to officials. One strike on January 2 reportedly killed al-Qaeda-linked Taliban commander Mullah Nazir and five other militants, while an attack in Mubrak Shahi Village of Mir Ali Tehsil in North Waziristan killed a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander identified only as Faisal, two Central Asian militants and one other.
The death of Nazir, who was a key player in the Wana area, will be a great loss to the insurgency on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border, said Dr. Perviaz Iqbal Tareen, chairman of the Area Study Centre University of Peshawar and an observer of Central Asian and Afghanistan affairs.
"The support the group was providing to Haqqani and Gul Bahadar would also die down as Nazir's predecessors would not be of much worth," he told Central Asia Online.
Nazir's absence in the Ittehad-i-Shura Mujahideen, a conglomerate of Taliban groups in North and South Waziristan agencies, would also cripple its ability to attack coalition troops in Afghanistan, he said.
"Look, Mullah Nazir and his deputy Rupa Khan and key commanders had died in the attack, so their structure is badly affected," a senior tribal journalist and militancy analyst, Safiullah Mehsud, said in agreement. "The deaths would definitely affect the group's operation in the area and also cross-border attacks."
But amid a weakened organisational structure, some forecast some repercussions.
"Mullah Nazir's death will lead to a surge in violence in the relatively calm Wana area and the surrounding area under Mullah Nazir's control, because the other actors will try to control the region," said Dr. A. Z. Hilali, chairman of the political science department at the University of Peshawar and an observer of Pakistani-Afghan and security affairs. "It's likely the Mehsud Taliban would try to dominate, which may cause some violence."
The uncertain future presents challenges for security officials, Brig. (ret.) Mehmood Shah, a former security official in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and a watcher of tribal affairs agreed, but he offered strategies on how security forces could cope with the challenges.
Nazir was a powerful warlord who called the shots in the border region. His death creates a vacuum that could lead to fighting and instability.
Shah cited several prospects for the future, including the possibility of tribal feuds among the nine sub-clans in Wana and Shakai. Nazir, a member of the Qanhdar tribe, enjoyed widespread respect from the large Ahmedzai Wazir tribe in Pakistan and Afghanistan and thus kept clan squabbles at bay.
Security forces must also watch for the possible return of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) militants to the area, he said. "He ousted the Uzbek fighters from the Wana region who were destabilising the region, so his absence might facilitate the Uzbeks' return," Shah said.
Preserving law and order
With the possibility of instability ahead, Shah recommended that authorities take swift action to ensure that any emerging threats are kept in check.
First and foremost, he called for "taming down the internal rivalries among Ahmedzai Wazirs and finding a consensus leadership," which he said would require gaining their support through the tribal maliks and elders, adding that it "would be difficult after Mullah Nazir's death."
"The Ahmedzai's peace agreement with the government … had guaranteed the safety and security of the Pakistani security and government officials, but now there is no guarantee," he explained.
By increasing the security and intelligence network operations in the region, security forces would be able to hunt down and stop these outsiders who could be a source of serious nuisance for the security forces and the administration as well, Shah told Central Asia Online.
Nazir had ties to al-Qaeda, the Haqqani Network and the Hafiz Gul Bahadar group of the Taliban and was accused of involvement with multiple cross-border attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan.
He survived multiple attacks that have targeted him in the past, but Wana officials confirmed that counter-terror efforts in the Sara Kanda Village of Birmil Tehsil in South Waziristan killed Nazir and five other militants January 2.
The Nazir group also confirmed the death of its leader, saying Nazir was buried at Azam Warsak January 3 and that Bahwal Khan was chosen to lead the group in his stead along with others.