Pakistan to launch operation in North Waziristan: Report

North Waziristan is key sanctuary for al Qaeda and Taliban on Afghan border.

Islamabad: Pakistan has decided to launch an air and ground military offensive in North Waziristan, the main sanctuary for al Qaeda and Taliban on the border with Afghanistan, a newspaper reported on Monday.

The United States has long demanded that Pakistan launch an offensive in the region to hunt down the Haqqani network, one of the deadliest Afghan militant factions fighting American troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has been reluctant, but has come under intense US pressure to attack militancy after it was discovered that Osama bin Laden had been living there.

The News newspaper quoted unnamed "highly placed sources" as saying Pakistani Air Force planes would soften up militant targets under the "targeted military offensive" before ground operations were launched.

The newspaper said an understanding had been reached over the offensive during last week`s visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

A US embassy official said he was checking into the report. Pakistani officials were not immediately available for comment.

Pakistan has maintained that its troops were already too stretched fighting Pakistani Taliban insurgents in other parts of the northwest to tackle North Waziristan.

But analysts say Pakistan sees the Haqqani network as an asset to counter the growing influence of rival India in Afghanistan.

Bureau Report

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