Pakistani Army attempts to divide key Waziristan tribe


Islamabad : Opening a psychological warfare front, the Pakistani Army is seeking to divide the key Mehsud tribe in the restive South Waziristan region where its forces are currently engaged in a major offensive against the Taliban.

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In an open letter to the Mehsud tribe, copies of which were distributed at a press briefing jointly addressed by Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira and military spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas, army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani expressed the hope that the tribe would fully back the army in the operation and collectively rise against oppressive elements.

Kayani made it clear that the operation in South Waziristan was not meant to target the “valiant and patriotic” Mehsud tribe but was aimed at ridding it of the elements who had destroyed peace in the region, Dawn reported Tuesday.

Saying that the targets of the operation were Uzbek terrorists, foreign elements and local militants, Kayani said the army wanted to provide an opportunity to the Mehsud tribe to once again live in their area in peace.

He also acknowledged that all tribes, including the Mehsud, were loyal to Pakistan and had been working for the “defence of the country as an army without salary”.

The letter has a colour photograph of the army chief on the top, the national flag on one side and the insignia of the Pakistani Army on the other. Urdu and Pushto versions of the message are reported to have been dropped in South Waziristan by helicopters.

The Pakistani Taliban was led by Baitullah Mehsud till he was killed by a US drone strike in August. His deputy Hakimullah Mehsud succeeded him.

About 30,000 troops, backed by combat jets and artillery, Saturday launched a three-pronged attack against the 10,000-odd Taliban that are believed to be in South Waziristan. The military says over 120 militants have been killed in two days of operations till Monday afternoon.