Pakistani troops marched through the streets of the major North Waziristan city of Miramshah, declaring a “victory” over the Taliban in the major three-week military offensive against the tribal agency.
Victory in this case meant marching into a conspicuously empty city. Once 100,000-strong, Miramshah was a virtual ghost town by the time the Pakistani military arrived, no tribal fighters, no Taliban, no civilians.
Indeed, that was the case across most of the agency, as Pakistan’s military conceded that while they took the agency over, the massive Taliban fighting force simply vanished before they got there, and no noteworthy leaders were captured or killed.
It’s a familiar problem for the Pakistani military, which had invaded several other tribal agencies over the years hunting for Taliban leadership, and always got the same results: a high body count of dubious “suspects” in the early going, a massive civilian refugee crisis, and the actual targets simply fade away, returning once the operation ends.