If there was any need to underscore why Pakistan’s civilian government has eschewed military offensives against the tribal areas in an attempt to pursue peace talks with the Taliban, the military’s ham-fisted operations in North Waziristan today removed any doubt.
After a truck bomb hit a military checkpoint Wednesday night, the military mobilized on a series of “raids” which overwhelmingly killed civilians who just happened to be in the areas.
The first hit in this raid was a truck stop restaurant near the attacked checkpoint, where troops marched in and mowed down truckers by the dozen, declaring them all “hardcore terrorists.”
Other offensives targeted hotels in the surrounding area, where troops killed ethnic Uzbeks, noting the Taliban faction which claimed credit for the Wednesday strike claims Uzbek support.
Early in the day the military had rejected any reports of civilian casualties as false, which is par for the course for them, but by the evening sources were conceding that at least three of the 36 slain, women and children killed in shelling, were “civilians.”
In addition to the killings, the military said it destroyed a number of houses that it suspected belong to “dissidents,” and have cut off all telephone service to the surrounding area, likely to prevent more reports of civilian casualties from emerging while the story is still fresh.
Local politicians were harshly critical of the operation, saying that the heavy-handed tactics were alienating locals, and that every civilian killed in the operation meant a whole family that was likely to support the Taliban in the future.