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

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Presidential Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.