Pak not ready to undertake military campaign in N Waziristan

Pakistan may not undertake a military campaign in the troubled North Waziristan Agency for another four to six months.

Last Updated: Nov 22, 2010, 22:03 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan may not undertake a
military campaign in the troubled North Waziristan Agency for
another four to six months despite mounting pressure from the
US to move troops into the lawless tribal region, considered a
hub of Taliban and al Qaeda elements.

The government is citing numerous reasons in apparent
dilly-dallying on the offensive, a media report said today.

The reasons being cited range from differences in
perceptions over the scheduled withdrawal of NATO troops from
Afghanistan, the US-sponsored peace plan of Afghan President
Hamid Karzai and the widening role of India in Afghanistan`s
affairs, The Express Tribune quoted its sources as saying.

Recent developments in the region, particularly in the
wake of US President Barack Obama`s visit to India, have
forced Pakistan to "think twice before opening another war
front in North Waziristan", said a former diplomat who did not
want to be named.

After the December 30, 2009, suicide bombings at a CIA
base in the Afghan province of Khost and the May 1 botched car
bomb attack in New York`s Times Square, Pakistan has been
under intense pressure from the US to launch an offensive in
North Waziristan Agency.

US reports have said that besides al Qaeda, Pakistani
Taliban, the region is used as safe havens by the Haqqani
network as well as recruits from Europe and America.

The Foreign Office recently said Pakistan will decide
on going after militants in North Waziristan on the basis of
the capacity of its armed forces and national interests.

This stance should not be interpreted "as a lack of
Pakistani resolve to fight terrorism", the Foreign Office
spokesman said.

However, US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral
Mike Mullen has described North Waziristan as the "epicentre
of terrorism", saying Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez
Kayani has given assurances that he would launch the offensive
that the US has long called for.

The Express Tribune also quoted a source as saying
that "taking the ongoing war in the Federally Administered
Tribal Areas and other regions to its logical conclusion is
the first and foremost priority for the army".

The source said the Pakistan Army is fully engaged
with its war against Taliban and militants in Orakzai Agency,
Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency, Swat, Kurram Agency, Mamond
sub-division of Bajaur Agency and other parts of the region.

The daily said policymakers in Islamabad were
"seriously perturbed" over the perceived US-India "hobnobbing
on the Afghan issue."

Pakistan`s worries increased when Washington,
following Obama`s trip, invited Islamabad and Delhi to be
engaged in the Afghan transition, the paper reported.

Another issue that disappointed Pakistan was Obama`s
"dramatic" announcement backing India`s bid for a berth in an
expanded UN Security Council.

Islamabad has expressed its serious concern and
disappointment over the US support.

Pakistan "fears that the move would imperil its
Kashmir cause", the daily reported.

The US-sponsored peace process in Afghanistan too
caused concern in Pakistan.

"Pakistan being a neighbour and a frontline ally in
the war on terror had a serious desire to be part of such
talks but it felt isolated by both Kabul and Washington," the
report said.

Washington is asking Islamabad to launch a decisive
offensive against Taliban and al Qaeda in North Waziristan
while it is talking to the Taliban about the Afghan
transition.

"This is not an acceptable venture for Pakistan," the
former diplomat said.

PTI