Pak troops strength inadequate in South Waziristan offensive

      The Pakistan Army has pressed around 30,000 soldiers against the Tehreek-e-Taliban in South Waziristan, but experts believe the number is inadequate, and warn that if there is a guerrilla war, it will carry on for years without any gains for Islamabad. Pakistan aims to capture the territory in the next six to eight weeks before winter snows make the going much tougher. Three previous offensives in South Waziristan since 2004 have all ended with the Pakistan Army withdrawing, leaving the Taliban in a stronger position. Brigadier General (retired) Javed Hussain said: "The forces that the army is employing is not enough. The important thing is that we have to avoid getting into a guerrilla war because a guerrilla war carries on for years on end." "They have to bring in more forces and make use of the geography. Guerrillas' safe havens reside in the mountains. "In the opening moves, the army should have landed troops to secure the heights, to force the guerrillas into the valleys, where you can take them down using air-delivered and ground-delivered firepower," The Telegrah quoted him, as saying. South Waziristan is not only crucial for Pakistani Taliban but it is also a safe haven for Afghan insurgents and al-Qaeda, making it a global hub for extremism. The army is up against 10,000 battle-hardened Taliban, plus up to 1,500 foreign fights, mostly Uzbeks closely tied to al-Qaeda. Pakistan's armed forces are closing in on the stronghold of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, with heavy losses reported on both sides. Troops were advancing towards the towns of Makeen and Ladha in the mountainous region of South Waziristan, in a military offensive that could prove decisive in the country's struggle against Islamic extremism. Around 135,000 civilians have flooded out of the region to nearby areas of Pakistan since August to escape the fighting, with a further 30,000 arriving in the last three days. A further 90,000 to 130,000 are still expected to flee South Waziristan.

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