204260

4/27/2009 1:01:00 PM

09ISLAMABAD887

Embassy Islamabad

SECRET//NOFORN

09ISLAMABAD870

VZCZCXRO9806OO RUEHLH RUEHPWDE RUEHIL #0887/01 1171301ZNY SSSSS ZZHO 271301Z APR 09FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABADTO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2429INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0174RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0160RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 4782RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY 1512RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE PRIORITY 7109RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY 6052RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITYRUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITYRUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ISLAMABAD 000887

NOFORN SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/27/2019 TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, PINR, PK, PREL, PTER SUBJECT: DIR: MILITARY OPERATIONS CONTINUE WHILE ACCESS FOR AID HALTED

REF: ISLAMABAD 870

Classified By: CDA Gerald Feierstein for reasons 1.4 (b), (d).

1. (C) Summary. On April 26, the Government of Pakistan launched military operations in Lower Dir District, Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) in response to the growing taliban presence in the region and at the request of the NWFP government. The Frontier Corps (FC) claim to have killed approximately 45 militants, including two local militant commanders. In response, taliban spokesman, Muslim Khan, and Tehreek-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) chief Maulana Sufi Mohammad have publicly called for the operations to cease, saying that they violate the Swat peace agreement. However, the FC have now occupied Lal Qila (Maidan), Sufi Mohammad's home area. According to UN sources, approximately 500 to 700 families have fled to southern areas of Lower Dir and are staying with host families due to the military operations. No movements of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Lower Dir to other districts have been reported. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reports that the Dir civilian government denied the ICRC access into Dir due to security concerns. There have been no reports of disruptions to AID projects taking place in the district. End Summary.

MILITARY OPERATIONS IN LOWER DIR

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2. (C) On April 26, the Frontier Corps/Army started military operations in Lower Dir at the request of the NWFP government to curb the taliban presence in the area. According to FC Inspector General Tariq Khan, approximately 45 militants were killed, including two militant commanders allegedly responsible for a rash of recent attacks on local police. The majority of the operations have taken place in the northern portions of Lower Dir, specifically in Lal Qila (Maidan), the native village of TNSM chief Maulana Sufi Mohammad and reported taliban stronghold. Sufi spoke publicly about the FC operations, saying that they went against the recent Swat peace agreement, while taliban spokesman, Muslim Khan, announced that if the Pakistan military operations continued, taliban attacks would begin again throughout the Malakand division. (Note: Currently, the operations in Dir are being conducted on the ground by the Dir Scouts, a wing of the FC, and one Special Operations Group, supported by aviation and artillery from the Pakistan Army's 11th Corps. End Note.)

3. (S/NF) As operations in Dir continued on April 27, Khan reported that the FC placed troops along the ridgeline of the area of operations (AO) and was able to stop militants trying to escape the operations. Khan reported that his men secured the road between Timergara and Chakdarra. (Note: Chakdarra is a key junction point where the Dir and Swat valleys split). He also reported at least 5 FC soldiers were killed due to poor unit management. U.S. Special Operations Command Force are assisting the FC at the Intelligence Fusion Cell at FC Headquarters (Bala Hisar - Peshawar) with imagery, target packages, and operational planning.

IDPS AND HUMANITARIAN SUPPORT

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4. (SBU) Due to these military operations, schools are closed and many of the main roads leading into the district have been blockaded to prevent entry or exit. UN officials and the Relief Commissioner in Lower Dir have reported that approximately 500 to 700 families have left the affected areas in northern Lower Dir to stay with host families - as opposed to the UN-led IDP camps - in the southern part of the district near the Bajaur border. Along the way, these families are being met by volunteers who are providing water, food, and transportation. At this time, Post has not received reports of families fleeing the district entirely. Although USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) assists with Bajaur IDPs and school repairs in Lower Dir, local staff report that beyond a cut to land and cellular lines by the district government, they have not been affected by the operations.

5. (SBU) In a meeting with Acting DCM on April 27, ICRC

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Country Director reported that the Lower Dir District Commissioner's Office (DCO) refused to allow the ICRC sub-delegation into Dir for the purposes of examining humanitarian needs. ICRC reported that the DCO blamed the ongoing military operations and general security concerns for the denial of entry. (Note: ICRC and other humanitarian agencies continue to report the military fully embraces ICRC assistance while the civilian government continues to be cautious about assisting ICRC access. Consulate Peshawar is raising the issue with the DCO. End Note.)

6. (SBU) The UN High Commission for Refugees, the World Food Program, and Post have a meeting scheduled for April 28 to discuss the next steps in addressing the Dir humanitarian situation. At this time, they are not reporting problems with their ongoing activities at existing UN-led IDP camps for Bajaur IDPs in Lower Dir. Both organizations report that they are ready to distribute non-food item kits (NFIs) and food if allowed into the district.

FEIERSTEIN