Saturday, January 16, 2010




The Chapman Base tragedy in the Khost area of Afghanistan in which seven CIA officers were killed by a Jordanian betrayor won over by the Pakistani Taliban on December 30,2009, has not affected the morale of the CIA. Its morale is high and its officers, in co-ordination with the officers of the US technical intelligence agencies, have gone after Hakimullah Mehsud, the Amir of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as the Pakistani Taliban is known, with a determination worthy of emulation.

2.This is the message coming out loud and clear from a Drone strike on a group of terrorists in the Shaktoi village on the border between South and North Waziristan on January 14,2009. While it is not clear whether the CIA knew that Hakimullah was among the terrorists in the meeting, it is clear that it knew that a gathering of Arab, Uzbeck and Pakistani terrorists of the TTP was taking place and attacked them killing 10 of them---two of them reportedly Arabs and the remaining Uzbecks and Pakistanis. The fact that there has been no public demonstration against the strike indicates that there were no civilian fatalities.

3.Pakistani media speculation that Hakimullah was among those killed has not been corroborated. The indicators from local sources are that he was present in the area, but was not among the casualties. A TTP spokesman has himself admitted that Hakimullah was present in the area targeted by the Drone,but had left before the Drone attack. Other reports that Hakimullah sustained an injury, which is not life threatening, have not been admitted by the TTP.

4. The accuracy of the information and the precision of the strike speak well of the CIA’s undamaged capability to go after the TTP and should be a reminder to Hakimullah of the fate of Baitullah, his predecessor, who was killed by a Drone strike near the same area in August last.

5. Some local sources say that after the death of Baitullah, Hakimullah is afraid of being betrayed by a fellow Mehsud and hence spends more time in the camps of Al Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in North Waziristan than in the camps of the TTP in South Waziristan or in the Orakzai area. ( (17-1-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )