Kurrum carries tremendous significance for Pakistan and the US as it is the shortest route to Kabul from anywhere in Pakistan (here's a map of Kurrum). It borders Khost in the south, Paktia in the southwest, and Nagarhar in the north – all provinces considered to be strongholds of the Afghan Taliban.
The Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani terror network, under the pressure of American drones in North Waziristan, have been eyeing Kurrum to get access to Afghanistan in order to join the Afghan Taliban in their fight against the US-led forces.
Kurrum has also been at the center of a violent sectarian conflict between the warring Shia Turi and Sunni Bangash tribes that has already claimed thousands of lives since 2007.
Lower Kurrum is under the control of Taliban militants who have established training centers and bases there, while Shias control Upper Kurrum bordering Afghanistan, thus blocking the Taliban’s route to Afghanistan.
The rival Shia tribal elders say the “ruthless” commander is behind the killing of their community members and considered to be very close to Hakeemullah Mehsud, the chief of the TTP, and the Haqqani network, one of the most dangerous insurgent groups fighting against US forces in Afghanistan.
In a rare type of strike in Lower Kurrum, US drones targeted a Taliban compound and a vehicle with four missiles on June 20, killing 11 militants, most of whom reportedly belonged to the Haqqani network. Sources say the targeted compound belonged to Taliban militants of the commander Fazal Saeed Haqqani.