Pakistani army denies reports of planning to launch military operation in North Waziristan

08:50, June 03, 2011      

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The Pakistani army ruled out ground offensive in the country's North Waziristan tribal agency, contradicting reports that Pakistan had agreed to assault North Waziristan following pressure from the United States.

"As a military commander I'd like to stabilize the areas which are still all on violent or unstable," said Lt. Gen. Asif Yasin Malik, the Frontier Corps Commandant of Peshawar, at a press briefing in Mohmand Agency of Pakistan's tribal belt bordering Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Yasin said the Pakistani army would not start a military operation in North Waziristan on the demand of any other country but would take the decision itself and on the instruction of the government of Pakistan when needed.

"I can not undertake multiple operations at the same time," he said, pointing to the military logics.

At the same briefing, army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said that media hype regarding the military operation become headlines after some reports published in foreign media based on statements of foreign dignitaries.

Answering a question as why U.S. drone strikes target North Waziristan, Asif Yasin Malik claimed that North Waziristan is calm and peaceful. "I have nothing to do with drone strikes. You should ask this question to the Americans but as for as I am concerned, it is a negative thing in my area of control, I don't benefit from these strikes in my area, it creates instability and also impinges relationship with the local people," he said.

Malik further explained that "on drone strikes the government and military both are on same page and it has direct affect on military operation and it benefits neither side rather it is counter-productive for us and we repeatedly say this."

He said that information sharing with CIA was not abandoned though it was limited after the Abbottabad operation which killed Osama bin Laden. The corps commander said terrorists had support from across the Afghan border and installing a biometric system and effective surveillance on the Pak-Afghan border could prevent the entry of militants into Pakistan.

Malik also denied any possibility of a joint operation with the U.S. or NATO in the tribal belt, saying the Pakistan army is perfectly capable of undertaking an operation as it had done in Swat and South Waziristan. The corps commander appealed to tribesmen to play their role in maintaining peace in their area and to keep an eye on anti-state elements.

The commander of 77 Brigade, Brig. Aftab Ahmed, told the media that the army had full control of seven Tehsils (sectors) of Mohmand agency, and partial control on Tehsil Safi that borders Afghanistan. He said militants from Swat, Dir, Bajaur and Kunar province of Afghanistan were penetrating the Mohmand agency, adding that 700 militants had been flushed out from the agency. He said about 200 militants were arrested during the two-phased operation.

Athar Abbas told media that the Frontier Corps (FC) was responsible for the security of five out of seven Tehsils of Mohmand agency while the army was controlling the security of South and North Waziristan agencies.

Peace committees established in the area are functioning well under the tribal political system. The political agent of Mohmand Agency, who was also present during the briefing, said the political system supporting the tribal people and military is providing security to the developments projects in the area so that people move back to their normal life as fast as possible.

Saed-ur-Rheman, a 48-year-old man, told Xinhua that "situation in Mohmand agency is very peaceful and we pray for peace in the region."

"There are doubts surfing the previous situation (time of Taliban) because the situation during Taliban presence was very panicking but I am sure this will not happen again after this military operation," he said.

Source: Xinhua
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