Pak drags feet on new offensive in tribal belt

Last Updated: Sunday, June 13, 2010 - 18:32

Islamabad: Pakistan is buying time in
North Waziristan -- gathering intelligence, building alliances
and insisting any assault into the Taliban and Al-Qaeda
fortress take place at its own time and choosing.

Part of the tribal belt on the Afghan border, North
Waziristan is home to 350,000 people but considered a
stronghold for the most dangerous militants in the world and
largely impenetrable.

It is also a rumoured hiding place of Osama bin Laden.

Commanders are walking a tightrope, balancing US
pressure for action against fears that a major push into the
hornet`s nest would make enemies they cannot beat and drag
Pakistan into a new wave of violence.

"The army is already over-stretched after carrying out
offensives in other tribal regions," one Pakistani security
official told.

"Security forces got in touch with local tribesmen
in a policy of dialogue and asked them not to harbour any
insurgents, and this policy has worked," he said.

As well as the bin Laden connection, North
Waziristan`s mountains are also a refuge for Pakistani
Tehreek-e-Taliban who escaped an offensive in neighbouring
South Waziristan and networks fighting US forces in
Afghanistan.

A US drone campaign already trained on North
Waziristan has been stepped up since Pakistani-American Faisal
Shahzad was charged in the United States for plotting an
attempted May 1 bomb attack on New York. Shahzad told
interrogators.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, June 13, 2010 - 18:32

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