Pakistan limits offensive against militants as tension with India increases: sources


Islamabad : Pakistan has limited its air operation against the militants in the country’s tribal regions in view of tension with India, defence sources and residents in the insurgency-hit areas said on Friday.

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The army has been using fighter planes and gunship helicopters against the militants in the Bajuar tribal region and Swat valley in the country’s northwest.

At least two journalists in Bajaur also confirmed that there has been no air strike by fighter planes and gunships over the past six days.

Talking to IRNA on phone they also confirmed withdrawal of some troops from Bajaur in recent days.

“I have seen a convoy of 20 to 25 trucks of soldiers moving out of Bajaur,” a journalist said, requesting not to be identified.

He said a large number of displaced persons have also started returning Bajaur as most of them have left homes due to air strikes and artillery shelling.

Official sources say that Pakistan’s air space violation by an Indian fighter plane on December 12 forced the country’s armed forces made several unannounced changes in formations and the U.S authorities have also been informed. India had denied violation claim.

Sources said that President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf aza Gilani and other senior officials have also re-scheduled their foreign trips and delayed them due to tension.

They said that security forces have also postponed a planned offensive in Khyber Agency tribal area on the basis of the same reasons. The army was set to launch offensive in Khyber agency as activities of the militants also increased in recent weeks.

The incidents of attacks on NATO supply trucks in Khyber agency.

It is also believed that foreign kidnapped diplomats are taken to Khyber agency.

Sources said that holidays of the soldiers have also been cancelled.

However, there is no major change in positions of the troops in Swat valley. Local journalists say the army is engaged in offensive as routine. There is no withdrawal of troops from Swat, they said.

In Waziristan, the situation is not clear. Some people said there have seen movement of troops going out of the area but several convoys were also heading to Waziristan. There had been no major offensive in Waziristan this year.