Pakistan to launch offensive in North Waziristan - report
By Zeeshan Haider
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan will launch a military offensive in North Waziristan, a newspaper reported on Monday, days after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated a U.S. demand to tackle sanctuaries for al Qaeda and the Taliban on the Afghan border.
An understanding for an offensive in North Waziristan, the main sanctuary in Pakistan for militants fighting in Afghanistan, was reached when Clinton and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen visited Pakistan last week, Pakistan's the News newspaper reported.
The United States has long demanded that Pakistan attack the region to eliminate the Haqqani network, one of the deadliest Afghan militant factions fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has been reluctant to do so, but it has come under more pressure and its performance in fighting militancy is under scrutiny again after it was discovered that Osama bin Laden had been living in the country.
The News quoted unidentified "highly placed sources" as saying Pakistan's air force would soften up militant targets under the "targeted military offensive" before ground operations were launched. There was no timetable given.
The newspaper cited the sources as saying that a strategy for action in North Waziristan had been drawn up some time ago and an "understanding for carrying out the operation was developed" during the Clinton visit.
The target of any North Waziristan operation would be the most violent factions of the Pakistani Taliban, which has strong ties to al Qaeda, the report said.
But the United States would almost certainly push for a move against Haqqani, too. Continued...