No new operation for now, says ISPR

Pakistan Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas

ISLAMABAD: The military said on Thursday during a visit by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates that it could not launch any new offensive against militants for six months to a year.

The announcement probably comes as a disappointment to the US, which has pushed Pakistan to expand its military operations to North Waziristan to target militants staging attacks against coalition troops in Afghanistan.

The comments by military spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas clearly indicate Pakistan will not be pressurised in the near term to expand its fight beyond militants waging war against Pakistan.

The Pakistan army was overstretched and it was not in a position to open any new fronts. “Obviously, we will continue our present operations in Waziristan and Swat,” Maj-Gen Abbas told DawnNews TV channel.

It was not about years, he said. “It will take us between six months and a year to consolidate the gains in the areas taken back from the militants to make them completely secure and ensure safety of the returnees and stabilise the situation,” he said.

The country’s resources did not allow the army to open a new front. However, if at all it opened a new front it would do so in line with the country’s interests.

He rejected criticism that Pakistan had been slow to move against the Haqqani network that is quite active in Afghanistan and told journalists traveling with Mr Gates that the CIA had failed to provide “actionable intelligence” about the group.

The army launched a major ground offensive against the Pakistani Taliban’s main stronghold in South Waziristan in mid-October.

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