News / Asia

Panetta: Pakistan to Launch Long-Awaited Offensive Against Militants in North Waziristan

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is interviewed by The Associated Press at the Pentagon, August 13, 2012.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is interviewed by The Associated Press at the Pentagon, August 13, 2012.
Ayaz Gul
ISLAMABAD — U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says Pakistan’s military will soon be ready to begin a long-awaited offensive in its North Waziristan border region, where the al-Qaida-affiliated Haqqani network is reportedly based. Military officials in Pakistan have nothing to say about Panetta's claim, and Pakistan's political leaders say it would be premature to speculate on whether an operation is being planned. 
 
Pakistan has long resisted pressure to mobilize troops against the Haqqani network who are said to be entrenched in North Waziristan. The United States says the militants are involved in cross-border attacks on NATO forces to fuel the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.
 
The proposed Waziristan operation was said to be high on the agenda when the chief of the Pakistani spy agency, Lieutenant-General Zaheerul Islam, visited Washington earlier this month for counterterrorism talks.

No details of those discussions were made public, but leaks to both Pakistani and U.S. media have led to speculation that the two sides are closer to an agreement on the issue. Military officials in Islamabad are dismissing the reports.
 
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's revelation that Pakistan is readying itself for the long-awaited offensive in North Waziristan has again revived the controversy. He told The Associated Press that army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani discussed the Pakistani plan in recent talks with the U.S. commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan General John Allen.
 
"General Kayani did indicate that they had developed plans to go into Waziristan," said Panetta. "Our understanding is that, hopefully, they're going to take that step in the near future. I can't tell you when, but the indication we have is that they are prepared to conduct that operation soon."
 
Panetta says the Pakistani Taliban, not the Haqqani network, might be the target of a government offensive in North Waziristan.
 
The political administrator of Pakistan's northwestern province bordering the tribal belt says it is too soon to say whether a military offensive in North Waziristan is in the making.
 
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti told reporters in Peshawar that “whenever a decision is taken to launch the operation, the nation will come to know about it.”
 
Tribal sources and local officials say they have seen no signs of an imminent military operation in North Waziristan.
 
Analysts say the situation on the ground is more complicated.

Maria Sultan, a defense analyst, and the director of the private South Asian Strategic Stability Institute in Islamabad, says the Haqqani network has a very strong presence in Afghanistan’s border regions adjacent to Pakistan’s North Waziristan agency.
 
“The area occupied by the Haqqani network, it is a cross-border area, so a military operation could only be successful from either side if both sides had agreed to it," she says. "Will Pakistan go ahead with it? Yes, we will go ahead with it, if there is collective decision making on it. And it will require a major military operation. So this means that all countries of NATO, America and Pakistan have to be on board if this operation is to succeed.”
 
Analyst Hassan Askari Rizvi, a former professor at Columbia University, says the fragile political situation in the border region may prevent Pakistan's military from opening a new anti-militancy front.
 
“It would be a major shift in Pakistan’s policy if they go and attack North Waziristan, because they have not been able to succeed in other tribal areas where they continue to fight," says Rizvi. "So if they add a new agency [tribal area] to their list, that might stretch their task and make it difficult for them to manage North Waziristan, which is the toughest of all agencies.”
 
Critics believe Pakistan’s historic ties to insurgent groups like the Haqqani network prevent it from targeting these militants, hoping they can be an ally in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign forces.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid