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

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukraine PM Warns Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid