Tough Taliban resistance blunting Pak Army's edge in 'Raah-e-Nijaat' operation: Report

     The Pakistan Army's pledge to root out the Taliban from its den in South Waziristan through the operation named 'Raah-e-Nijaat', is meeting with significant resistance from the insurgents. According to a detailed briefing on the week-old ground operation by researchers at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), despite repeated claims from the Pakistan Army that it is going to crush the extremists once for all, the insurgents have retaken one large town, targeted military vehicles with roadside bombs and held off the army's attack helicopters with antiaircraft fire. It further states that though the Pakistani Army has a heavy presence in the region, the insurgents have also been able to coordinate suicide bombings and assassinations outside Waziristan. "I am not surprised that Taliban insurgents are opting for a pitched battle here. This is their hometown. Makeen is probably going to be their hardest fight," The Washington Post quoted Frederick W. Kagan, Director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), as saying. However, the report also says that the large Government force, aided by U.S. drone strikes and intelligence, outnumbers the insurgents and is expected to maintain its methodical, three-pronged push in an attempt to capture key territory held by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in the tribal stronghold of slain insurgent leader Baitullah Mehsud, The Nation reported. Earlier in the day, the Pakistani military had taken control of Kotai in South Waziristan's tribal belt, which is believed to be the hometown of Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud. But last Saturday, the Pakistani troops' advance toward Kotkai was slowed by the large numbers of roadside bombs, which killed at least one soldier. According to the briefing, the Pakistani force conducting the Waziristan operation comprises about 30,000 soldiers from the 7th Infantry Division and 9th Infantry Division of the army's XI Corps, based in Peshawar, and 10,000 members of the Frontier Corps, which operates in western tribal areas, as well as 500 Special Services Group commandos and two army aviation squadrons.

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