ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has come under renewed pressure from the US to launch a decisive offensive against the Haqqani network in North Waziristan Agency after western intelligence reports claimed to have uncovered an al Qaeda terror plot to target the UK, Germany and France.
On Wednesday, American CIA chief Leon Panetta began a crucial visit as part of Washington’s efforts to persuade Pakistan’s military and civil leadership to go after Taliban militants in North Waziristan.
Panetta’s first engagement was a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, where he is learnt to have shared intelligence on the alleged al Qaeda plot, which Western spy outfits insist was being planned in Pakistan’s tribal belt.
Neither side publically commented on the meeting, but official sources confirmed that discussions were focused on North Waziristan. Panetta was informed that Pakistan was examining the western intelligence reports but had yet to come across any conclusive evidence suggesting al Qaeda plot to target parts of Europe being hatched in the tribal areas.
Sources said the CIA chief, who is on a two-day visit to Islamabad, was trying to convince Pakistan’s military leadership for an all-out operation in North Waziristan in the wake of the new al Qaeda terror plot.
The military dismissed Western intelligence reports about the new al Qaeda plot. “We don’t have any credible information from sources that any such planning is taking place or terrorists are planning anything in North Waziristan,” military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP. “There is no credible information about this,” Abbas said.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2010.