Islamabad: General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has dispelled reports of joint operations with the US against militants in North Waziristan, saying Pakistan alone would decide the timing of any offensive in the tribal region according to its military requirements.
Kayani made Pakistan`s position on military operations in North Waziristan clear during a meeting last night with General James Mattis, the commander of the US Army`s Central Command, the Pakistani military said today.
The powerful Army chief "categorically dispelled the speculative reporting in the US media regarding an understanding given to Gen John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Forces, about the Pakistan Army`s readiness to launch joint operations in North Waziristan Agency", a military statement said.
A joint operation is "unacceptable to the people and armed forces of Pakistan" and has always been a "clearly stated red line" of the country, he said.
Kayani "clearly reiterated" Pakistan`s oft repeated perspective on the issue.
"We might, if necessary, undertake operations in North Waziristan Agency, in the timeframe of our choosing and determined only by our political and military requirements," he said.
"It (the operation) will never be a result of any outside pressure. Pakistan`s national interest continues to be the prime consideration for any decision in this regard," he said.
Kayani clarified Pakistan`s position by referring to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton`s statement of July 03, in which she had talked of "coordinated actions against terrorists who threaten Pakistan and the region".
Kayani said it was important to distinguish between "coordinated action" and a "joint operation". A "coordinated action" implies that the Pakistan Army and
ISAF conduct operations on their respective sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border.
For such actions, intelligence-sharing is the "mainstay of mutual cooperation", the military statement said.
"Contrarily, a joint operation implies that the two forces are physically employed jointly on either side of the border," the statement added.
During their meeting, Kayani and Mattis discussed matters of mutual interest.
Mattis, who met several senior Pakistani military officials, discussed a "wide range of common security issues, (including) militant network activities and measures to improve cross-border cooperation", said a statement issued by the US embassy.
The Pakistani military said the two sides had expressed satisfaction at the level of cooperation and resolved to further improve relations.
Mattis met Kayani and other senior Pakistani officials amidst growing speculation about a campaign against militants in the lawless North Waziristan Agency.
Mattis "reaffirmed the importance of the US-Pakistani security relationship - not only to ongoing operations in Afghanistan but also to regional stability", the US embassy statement said.
Senior US officials, including Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, have spoken in recent days about Pakistan launching a fresh military campaign against the Taliban in North Waziristan Agency.
However, there are no indications that the campaign will target the Haqqani network, which has close ties to the Pakistani security establishment and has been blamed for cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.