Nightly News   |  March 04, 2013

Struggling for control of Waziristan

Pakistani troops say they want to rebuild Waziristan, a corner of Pakistan that has become a hotbed of military activity, with financial help from the U.S. and others. But in order to do that, they insist U.S. drone strikes on the area must end. NBC’s Amna Nawaz was granted exclusive access to the region that had previously been off-limits to foreigners.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> in pakistan is there more danger than in waziristan, rarely seen by outsiders, even more rarely by journalists. our pakistan bureau chief gained access just across the border from afghanistan, and has filed an exclusive report.

>> reporter: this is the only way into north wouaziristawaziristan. with pakistan 's military still struggling for control here.

>> waziristan is not like pakistan . it's very different. it's very complex.

>> reporter: militants hide in this rugged terrain, launching attacks inside pakistan . and across the border in afghanistan. for years, this has been a safe haven for the taliban and al qaeda . u.s. drones target the militants, but they also kill civilians. pakistan wants that to stop and says it can police the area itself. but the military admits, the war has not yet been won. there are currently 40,000 troops stationed here in north waziristan , and about half of them are at border posts like this one. over 4,000 feet above sea level and less than a couple miles from the border. those pakistani troops conduct targeted operations, not large-scale assaults. their mission is to rebuild here. with financial help from the u.s. and others to give these isolated communities a reason to turn away from the terrorists. a new road to provide a link to the outside world . homes and schools destroyed by the taliban being rebuilt. new markets springing up, including a shopping center where the taliban once carried out public execution. tribal elder says he can now shop close to home , a trip that once took hours. progress, but the army still has to fight to hold its ground. commanders say they'll prevail only by winning over the people here, and insist u.s. drone strikes only make that more difficult.

>> look at it from a different perspective. your children in your house are up to no good. y would you like the neighbor to come in and beat the hell out of them? no matter how great or small can allow this to happen.

>> reporter: what's clear to us on the ground in north waziristan is just how underdeveloped that area is. and how much work remains to be done there. the pakistani commanders know the fight is far from over. and on that point, brian, the u.s. is in full agreement.

>> good to have you on a rare visit to new york and back safely. thank