By Syed Saleem Shahzad
"KARACHI - The ongoing three-day peace jirga (council) involving hundreds of tribal leaders from Pakistan and Afghanistan is aimed at identifying and rooting out Taliban and al-Qaeda militancy on both sides of the border. This was to be followed up with military strikes at militant bases in Pakistan, either by the Pakistani armed forces in conjunction with the United States, or even by US forces alone.
The trouble is, the bases the US had meticulously identified no longer exist. The naive, rustic but battle-hardened Taliban still want a fight, but it will be fought on the Taliban's chosen battlegrounds. Twenty-nine bases in the tribal areas of North Waziristan and South Waziristan on the border with Afghanistan that were used to train militants have simply fallen off the radar.
The US had presented Islamabad with a dossier detailing the location of the bases as advance information on likely US targets. But Asia Times Online has learned that since early this month, neither the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led coalition in Afghanistan nor Pakistan intelligence has detected any movement in the camps.
Human intelligence on both sides suggests the bases have been dismantled, apart from one run by hardline Islamist Mullah Abdul Khaliq. All other leading Taliban commanders, including Sirajuddin Haqqani, Gul Bahadur, Baitullah Mehsud and Haji Omar, have disappeared. Similarly, the top echelons of the Arab community that was holed up in North Waziristan has also gone......."