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Pakistan defers North Waziristan offensive


Islamabad : Pakistan has postponed for an indefinite period a full-scale military offensive against the extremist Haqqani network in the North Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan because of the freezing winter, a media report said Tuesday.

However, US pilot-less aircraft will continue to target Taliban “sanctuaries” in North Waziristan and elsewhere in the tribal belt as the only available options to weaken the insurgents, a source told The Express Tribune.

This is notwithstanding Pakistan’s official position that US drone attacks are an infringement on its sovereignty and stoke anti-Americanism in the country due to increasing civilian casualties.

The Haqqani network, led by aging Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani and his three sons, is blamed for fuelling an increasingly deadly Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

The extreme cold weather in the region normally lasts more than six months, the paper said.

North Waziristan’s terrain is extremely difficult from a logistic point of view. Analysts say it is one of the main reasons for Pakistan Army’s reluctance to go after the Haqqani network. Moreover, the US has not provided the special equipment the Pakistan Army needs for such an operation.

Interestingly, most of the US aid provided to Pakistan’s armed forces is in the shape of “work services”, such as overhauling of transport and helicopter gunships.

Pakistan has been under pressure from the US for launching a full scale offensive in North Waziristan. The Foreign Office, however, has denied any US pressure. It says the operation will be launched only if it is in the interest of Pakistan.