|Fighting ‘anti-Americanism’ that prevails among Ahmedzai Wazir tribes in South Waziristan is more challenging for the Pakistan Army than taking on the Taliban in the region bordering Afghanistan.
This problem may, however, go away with the start of gradual withdrawal of the American forces from Afghanistan this July, and the Pakistan Army thinks that the command may be handed over to the paramilitary forces to begin the regular troops’ withdrawal from South Waziristan.
“Locals are dead anti-US,” the Daily Times quoted a ground commander, as saying while giving an insight into the local population’s views about the US and NATO forces.
When asked what social services he would demand from the government, tribal elder Kengray Khan pointed his finger at two American F-18 jets circling overhead and said: “First, get these planes away from us. The Taliban fire shots at Americans and the Americans in return open fire at us.”
Since Ahmedzai Wazir tribes live on both sides of the border, anti-West forces find safe havens and support effortlessly.
However, local military commanders hope that once the Afghan National Army replaces the foreign forces, the anti-US sentiments will change and the support for the Taliban among the Ahmedzai Wazir tribes will dwindle.
On September 3, 2008, helicopter-borne US Special Operations Forces attacked al Qaeda militants in Angoor Adda, the last Pakistani town near the Afghan border, resulting in the deaths of twenty civilians.
Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas described the early morning attack as creating ‘new problems’ for the army.
The attack led to anger in Pakistan and the Army High Command looked furious, ordering ground commanders to shoot at US raiders if they made such an attempt next time.
And it happened, as when the US forces made a second such attempt, it prompted a swift response from the ground forces, resulting in the Americans’ return to their bases across the border.
“Civilian casualties harm our campaign against the Taliban and that is what the Americans were told of,” said the ground commanders.
“If the Americans raid inside Pakistan and civilians are caught by such action it leads to resentment against the army especially,” they added. (ANI)