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Pakistan Army launches long-awaited operation in N Waziristan

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The Pakistan Army Sunday launched a long-awaited operation against militants in North Waziristan Agency.

An Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release said: "Armed forces of Pakistan have launched a comprehensive operation against foreign and local terrorists who are hiding in sanctuaries in North Wazirastan Agency."

The ISPR further said that using North Waziristan as a base, these terrorists had waged a war against the state of Pakistan and had been disrupting our national life in all its dimensions, stunting our economic growth and causing enormous loss of life and property.

The announcement came after overnight air strikes by Pakistani air force jets that reportedly killed about 150 foreign militants.

Among them was a suspected Uzbek leader, Abu Abdul Rehman al-Maani, of the deadly attack on Karachi airport a week ago, according to unnamed Pakistani officials.

Al-Maani is considered a key commander of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) that was declared as a terrorist organization in 2000 by the US State Department.

Following the brazen assault in Karachi, the US carried out two drone strikes in North Waziristan on Wednesday, killing at least 16 people. These were the first drone strikes in six months.

The US has long pressed for an operation in North Waziristan, one of the last areas in the restive north-west where a large-scale push against insurgents had not taken place.

This is the third military operation in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The military launched an operation in the Swat region in 2009 and in South Waziristan in 2010. Just like previous operations, the North Waziristan military operation is launched behind a smoke screen. The operation region is a no go area for journalists or independent observers. Hence the media has to rely on the ISPR press releases for any casualties. In other words nobody knows what is going in the operation area.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) member of parliament, Dr Arif Alvi, said the North Waziristan operation is for money. He added that operation was to appease the US government which has linked aid to an operation of this nature.

Not surprisingly, the US Ambassador ,Richard Olson, has assured the US-client government of Mian Nawaz Sharif that the remaining amount of Coalition Support Fund (CSF) will soon be released to Pakistan. According to the Daily Times, the ambassador called on the Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, Senator Ishaq Dar, on Saturday and gave this assurance.

The CSF has accounted for nearly half of US financial transfers to Pakistan from 2001 to June 2013. Pakistan has since 2001 received about $11 billion under this head from the US. The amount equals roughly one-fifth to one-fourth of Pakistan's total military expenditures during this period.

Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami Chief Syed Munawar Hassan Sunday called for an immediate halt to airstrikes in North Waziristan. Talking to journalists in Lahore, Munawar Hassan said the government should formally announce its decision before planning an operation against the Taliban.

Government should not approve military action regardless of the result of peace talks, he added.

India was destabilizing Pakistan by sitting in Balochistan and some other parts of the country, he said adding that India was providing weapons for militancy.

Munawar Hassan regretted the silence of the current government in this regard.

It may be recalled that Indian made arms were recovered from the militants who launched the Karachi airport attack last week.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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