After intense pressure from the United States, Pakistan has reportedly agreed to launch a full-scale offensive against the Taliban and other extremist organisations in their stronghold North Waziristan, but has also clarified to the Obama administration that the timing of the military offensive would be decided by it.
A top Pakistani official confirmed that during the meeting between US National Security Adviser General James Jones and Central Investigation Agency (CIA) chief Leon Panetta and President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Pakistani leadership agreed to expand the counterinsurgency offensive to North Waziristan.
US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson also attended the meeting.
“Pakistan is sincere and committed in combating terrorism and is ready to expand its anti-militancy operations to North Waziristan. However, for that we will require time to do the necessary shaping up. The operation will be started according to our own judgment,” The Dawn quoted the official, as saying.
A joint statement issued after the meeting also confirmed that Islamabad is ready to open a new front against militants in the volatile tribal region.
“Discussions focused on measures that both the countries (the US and Pakistan) are, and will be, taking to confront the common threat we face from extremists and prevent such potential attacks from occurring again. Both sides pledged to do everything possible to protect our citizens,” the statement said.
Sources privy to the meeting said Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership categorically told Obama’s top security aides that the country’s armed forces were not in a position to move immediately into North Waziristan because of a number of limitations, including efforts being made to consolidate gains made in the areas cleared of the Taliban and capacity and resource issues.