The tiny village of Kotkai amounts to around 5,000 tribesmen living near the Afghan border. It has little apparent strategic value, but the Pakistani military has still made its capture the top priority in its invasion of South Waziristan.
The reasoning appears to be that Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud was born in Kotkai, and that gives the military’s conquest of the string of neighborhoods “psychological value.”
Instead, the psychological victory has rapidly turned into a psychological defeat, as the TTP quickly expelled the military from the village and has been offering “stiff resistance” to its attempts to retake it.
The military insists that, despite two days of heavy fighting in the town, it has only lost four troops, while militants have lost around a dozen. The low death count belies reports labeling it “the Mother of All Battles” yet the inability of local media to cover the region and independently verify anything the government and TTP say, it is impossible to prove otherwise.