Pakistan military plans to open new front: Panetta

Published: August 15, 2012
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US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta. PHOTO: FILE

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta. PHOTO: FILE

WASHINGTON: 

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has said that Pakistan was prepared to launch combat operations against Taliban militants in North Waziristan Agency, which also serves as a haven for the al Qaeda-affiliated Haqqani network.

According to Panetta, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani discussed the planned operation in recent conversations with the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen John Allen.

The defence secretary told a news agency he did not know when the Pakistani operation would start, but he understands it will be in the “near future,” and that the main target will be the Pakistani Taliban, rather than the Haqqani network.  He welcomed Gen Kayani’s initiative, even though the main target may not be the Haqqani leadership.

“They’ve talked about it for a long time. Frankly, I’d lost hope that they were going to do anything about it. But it does appear that they in fact are going to take that step.”

The US has long been frustrated by Islamabad’s refusal to target Afghan Taliban militants and their allies.

However, speculations about the possibility of an operation in North Waziristan have been rife, especially in the wake of Director-General Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam’s visit to the US. Many analysts believe Pakistan is reluctant to target groups with which it has strong historical ties and could be useful allies after foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan.

On Monday, while addressing the Azadi Parade in Kakul, Gen Kayani renewed the military’s commitment to fighting against terrorism.

“We realise that the most difficult task for any army is to fight against its own people. But this happens as a last resort. Our real objective is to restore peace in these areas so that people can lead normal lives,” he said, adding, “No state can afford a parallel system or a militant force.”

No joint operation: security officials

Senior security officials have dismissed speculations about a joint Pak-US operation in North Waziristan as ‘baseless’ and ‘absurd’.

One of the senior security officials, requesting anonymity, vehemently rejected the possibility of any ISI-CIA joint operation codenamed ‘Tight Screw’ in North Waziristan through which boots on ground has been accepted by Islamabad.

Sharing further details regarding ISI chief Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam’s visit to the US, the officer said, “Pakistan does not support the Haqqani network for their operations inside Afghanistan”.

With additional reporting by asad kharal in lahore

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Mirza
    Aug 15, 2012 - 9:17AM

    It is about time Pakistan army start doing its job and protect Pakistanis from these fanatic terrorists. That must be the only reason drone attacks have slowed down lately. With this understanding only, the US can take a breather.

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  • hassan akbar
    Aug 15, 2012 - 9:57AM

    I hope our army will successfully fight afghans inside our border and teach them the lssson of their lives.

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  • Rana
    Aug 15, 2012 - 10:03AM

    I don’t know why, but I feel this time he not bluffing? Our top brass is pathetic!

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  • Arif
    Aug 15, 2012 - 10:53AM

    I think its quite easy to sit in our cozy homes and commenting on situation in FATA and role of Army, without knowing the facts. Pakistan Army has already laid down more than 3500 lives while operating in FATA, with countless injured, some permanently. These Casualties are more than 1965 and 1971 war combined. Look at where we were in 2008 where Terrorists were controlling almost all 7 agencies of FATA and three districts of Swat, Dir and Buner. Just look where we are now, besides North Waziristan, Government has control in all other areas. Some isolated incidents keep happening in controlled areas, but this does not mean that security forces are not in control. I think we must appreciate the efforts put in so far, all is not so easy.

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  • Arif
    Aug 15, 2012 - 10:58AM

    Nobody needs an operation in North Waziristan more than we do ourselves. All the terrorist acts happening in Pakistan have a direct or indirect link to North Waziristan. Mir Ali and Miranshah have terrorists from a variety of nationalities, who are mostly involved in activities inside Pakistan. Pakistan Army has achieved tremndous successes in last three years, this final thorn needs to be taken out.
    Long Live Pakistan

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  • nrmr44
    Aug 15, 2012 - 1:21PM

    Gen Kayani said “No state can afford a parallel system or a militant force.”

    What! Not even when it is your own creation?

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  • Muhammad Yaqub
    Aug 15, 2012 - 2:02PM

    Wow ! Now we know who is responsible for all the planning for our Army !

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  • Mr S
    Aug 15, 2012 - 2:13PM

    No need for an operation in NW. These pseudo liberals who are carving for operation has zero knowledge regarding geographical implications yet they whine about operation all the times. Interestingly the same clan of hypocrite Pakistanis started to cry when army takes action in Baluchistan.

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  • j. von hettlingen
    Aug 15, 2012 - 2:48PM

    It explains why the Americans are frustrated with Islamabad. They can’t rely on Pakistan to translate words into action. Everything is uncertain and all projects and cooperations are for the “near future”.

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  • Aug 15, 2012 - 8:02PM

    We’ve lost enough time due to our differences. Our focus at the moment is to create a good working partnership through close cooperation and coordination. Let’s not forget that we are fighting the same terrorists, and these terrorists also view our nations as a common threat. It only makes sense for us to be on the same page, and combine our strength for the sake of achieving our common goals. But that certainly does not mean that the U.S. is dictating military plans to Pakistan. The terrorists are actively pursuing their evil agenda inside Pakistan. And the Pakistani government is well aware of the threat these terrorists pose. Please note what General Kayani said in the above article: “We realize that the most difficult task for any army is to fight against its own people. But this happens as a last resort. Our real objective is to restore peace in these areas so that people can lead normal lives. No state can afford a parallel system or a militant force.”

    Dear readers, we would like to refute the notion that the U.S. is planning to conduct operations inside Pakistan. This is what Brig. Gen. Gunter Katz, the ISAF spokesperson, had to say: “ISAF continues to dialogue with the Pakistani military through the Tri-Partite Commission on ways to improve the security situation along the Afghan-Pakistan border. Part of this effort has included discussion of coordinating ISAF and Pakistani military operations on their respective sides of the border, as well as establishing border coordination centers, but ISAF forces are not planning to conduct operations inside Pakistan. ISAF continues to appreciate the improved relationship with the Pakistani military and we’ll seek opportunities to deal with terrorism in the region.”

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  • Adnan
    Aug 16, 2012 - 7:30AM

    @Mirza:

    LOL!

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  • Aug 16, 2012 - 5:42PM

    There is great difference in between Pakistan and American interests in the region.
    American policy regarding Afghanistan has no similarity with Pakistan\s policy
    Confrontation in between parted their ways leading to different destinations.

    In view of its withdrawal,United States seeks harmless repatriation from Afghanistan
    for this purpose Afghan Army being trained and negotiation as a best option has been undertaken.Pakistan has also been requested to providing assistance,Pakistan inclined
    on it.
    Afghanistan is a neighboring country so it is very hard for Pakistan take any step which
    instigate Taliban against it and they start insurgency inside the country.

    On the indication, military action is being started in Waziristan and Shawal districts that
    is not favorable it would create more carnage and insurgency because Taliban’s credibility can not be overlooked.They have faced and facing decade long war with Nato and American forces.

    The efforts are admirable through which Taliban are being invited to the negotiating table,
    Take holders should honor their justified demands,such as release of all Taliban prisoners from American and Pakistani jails.

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  • Aug 16, 2012 - 7:03PM

    Surge in assassination of leading local and national official/leaders
    surge in increasing cross border attacks,stake holders compelled
    to take crucial military action.

    Unleashed policy of the Taliban brought Pakistan to the agreed point
    where aggressor already waiting her.
    Two nuclear armed states has decided to go behind them to the last extent.

    Circumstances of the region is going to change its direction.

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