News / Asia

Pakistan: Waziristan Strikes Are Not Start of Offensive

Security officials cordon off the site of a Taliban suicide blast that killed 10 people in a crowded market near the Pakistani army headquarters in the tribal region of North Waziristan in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Jan. 20, 2014.
Security officials cordon off the site of a Taliban suicide blast that killed 10 people in a crowded market near the Pakistani army headquarters in the tribal region of North Waziristan in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Jan. 20, 2014.
Ayaz Gul
Pakistan's military has released new details about airstrikes it launched Monday in North Waziristan amid fresh militant violence that has targeted the national anti-polio campaign.

Pakistani warplanes are reported to have continued bombing suspected militant hideouts in the North Waziristan tribal district, a hub for local and foreign militants linked to al-Qaida.

Military sources on Wednesday said that 33 Uzbekistan nationals and three Germans are among the militants killed in the airstrikes. They say that several terrorist commanders are among the dead.

The fighting reportedly has caused civilian casualties and forced residents to flee. Independent accounts are difficult to obtain from Waziristan, though, because of a lack of access and weak communication links with the rest of the country.

Army sources say the offensive is meant to punish those behind recent suicide bombings and other deadly terrorist attacks that mostly killed Pakistani troops.

The United States and Pakistani critics have long demanded an offensive in North Waziristan because they believe it is a source of terrorist attacks in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

However, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government and the military dismiss reports that a full-scale offensive is underway. They describe the air strikes as a “surgical” operation.

Khan opposes military action

Imran Khan, a key opposition politician who opposes the use of military force to fight militancy, told VOA the Waziristan action could intensify terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

“It looks like an operation is starting. I have no idea what is happening, we don’t know what the facts are," said Khan. "Agreed that the situation is difficult to hold peace talks with the other side, also because of the bomb blasts, but at least we should all be taken into confidence.”

Sharif has long insisted he wants to use negotiations to end the militancy plaguing Pakistan, saying that army operations alone cannot solve the problem permanently.

Almost all political parties support government efforts to hold peace negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban, but deadly terrorist incidents in recent days apparently have increased pressure to undertake decisive action against the militants.

In addition, attacks on polio vaccination teams and their guards continue in Pakistan, one of only three countries where the crippling disease is endemic.

Anti-polio program

On Wednesday, officials say a remote-controlled bomb struck a group of policemen protecting an anti-polio team in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The explosion killed six police personnel and a child.

Khan, whose Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party governs the province, condemned the violence. He said the attacks will not deter the anti-polio program.

"On the 26th [of January], we are doing a massive anti-polio campaign in [Khyber] Pakhtunkhwa," said Khan. "I am heading it and you know this is a serious issue for Pakistanis. And it is very sad that since CIA used a health worker, we have had 32 people killed, 22 polio workers and 10 policemen guarding them. It has really impacted this whole anti-polio campaign in Pakistan.”

Militants in Pakistan oppose the immunization campaign, saying it is being used to gather intelligence on their locations while some Islamist groups say the vaccine is meant to sterilize Muslims.

A Pakistani doctor, Shakeel Afridi, ran a fake vaccination program at the behest of the U.S. government that helped it locate and kill the terror mastermind, Osama bin Laden, in 2011. Pakistani authorities arrested Afridi and a court has sentenced him to 33 years in prison on treason charges. The issue is at the center of tensions between Washington and Islamabad.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More