Military operation "Khyber-4" in the zone of Pashtun tribes of Pakistan

« Back

Military operation "Khyber-4" in the zone of Pashtun tribes of Pakistan 15.08.2017 11:17



The Pakistan Army Headquarters in early July 2017 ordered operation Khyber-4 to be launched in the Rajgal Valley at the Khyber Agency, which, along with the other six, is part of the Territory of the Tribes of the Federal Management. It is also called the zone of Pashtun tribes bordering Afghanistan.

A distinctive feature of the new military operation is that it is being conducted against the radical organization Islamic State (IS) and its allies. Moreover, the military authorities of Pakistan officially confirmed, firstly, the presence of IS militants on their territory, secondly, the implementation by the Islamic State of subversive activities on their territory, thirdly, the availability of a route for delivering weapons, ammunition and military ammunition from Khyber to the province Nangarhar in eastern Afghanistan. And the Lashkar-e-Islami group operating in Khyber, led by Mangal Bagh, is closely connected with the IS and supplies it with new militants.

It should be noted that the military operation "The Sword Strike", ordered by the General Staff of the armed forces of Pakistan in June 2014, lasted two years. And according to the Pakistani media, the army successfully conducted dozens of successful raids. As a result, in 2016 the military authorities several times confirmed that the Territory of the tribes of the federal administration has been cleared of terrorists. However, the military operation Khyber-4 once again confirmed the existence of a new hotbed of armed conflict on the border with Afghanistan.

Currently, Pakistan is faced with another challenge - the influx of foreign militants, who often cross the country in transit, "sit out" in the shelters of the Tribal Areas of the federal government, cross the Pakistani-Afghan border and join the IS branch in Afghanistan. Moreover, their presence in Pakistan sharply intensified the activity of local radical organizations, in particular, the Taliban Pakistan Movement.

In response to the terrorist attacks in late 2016 - early 2017, the Pakistani army carried out several offensive operations at a number of agencies of the TFM (Bajaur, Kurram, Mohmand, Orakzai, South Waziristan and North Waziristan). Moreover, operation Khyber-4 is the fourth in the specified area, beginning in October 2014. And it is an integral part of the larger military campaign of the Pakistani army Radd-ul-Fasaad to block cross-border passages leading from Afghanistan, as well as the security in the border zone of the Pashtun tribes bordering Afghanistan and the largest Punjab province in the country.

The order to launch the military operation Radd-ul-Fasaad was given on February 22, 2017, when cross-border crossings from Afghanistan by militants of various radical organizations, including the "Islamic State", became more frequent. Its goal is the defeat of the IG and its affiliated persons, the suppression of cross-border transitions of militants from the Afghan province of Nangarhar and the elimination of their hideouts. This military operation is aimed at eliminating the threat of terrorism, consolidating the achieved successes and ensuring the security of the borders of Pakistan. It involves all kinds of troops and law enforcement agencies that support the efforts of the army of Pakistan to eliminate terrorist elements in the country.

The main objectives of the smaller Khyber-4 operation are: the release of the territory of the agency from foreign militants, the blocking of passages leading from Afghanistan to the interior of Pakistan, and the prevention of possible unification of local terrorist groups in Pakistan with foreign ones operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan. For example, former militants of Pakistani banned organizations Lashkar-i-Islam, Jamaatul Ahrar and the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan were sheltering in Khyber.

On July 23, 2017, the Pakistani Army announced the completion of the first phase of Operation Khyber 4 in the Rajgal Valley, gaining control of the key mountain peak Brekh Muhammad Qandao. The territory freed from terrorists is equivalent to 90 km2. In general, the area cleared of terrorists from Terrorists is 250 km2, including a mountain range located near the border with Afghanistan. It is considered to be the highest and hard-to-reach top where militants have established an observation post. During the operation, there were found caches with weapons and ammunition.

The military campaign in Khyber has a regional dimension. Back in June 2017, at the SCO summit in Astana, the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to coordinate actions along the joint border. In this connection, in mid-June, the Supreme Commander of the Pakistani Army informed the Afghan authorities about the beginning of Operation Khyber-4 in the Rajgal Valley. At the same time, it was suggested that the Afghan army would support the actions of Pakistani military personnel on its territory.

This initiative to coordinate joint actions was supported by US senators during their visit to Pakistan in June 2017. Nevertheless, the Afghan authorities sharply criticized the military operation Khyber-4, which, according to them, began without their coordination and support from China and the United States.

Thus, the military operation Khyber-4, conducted in the territory of the tribes of the Pakistan federal government, testifies to Islamabad's desire to fight against the radical organization Islamic State. However, its success still depends on coordinating such efforts with Kabul, which is not observed. Apparently, this issue requires discussion at the international level, in particular at the SCO site.

Natalia Zamaraeva, Ph.D. (Hist.), Senior researcher of the Pakistan sector of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.