ISLAMABAD, Aug 7: The army said on Tuesday it was carrying out targeted actions against militants in North Waziristan, but denied planning joint operations with the United States.
“Targeted actions in Operation Tight Screw (OTS) by Pakistan Army against militants in North Waziristan … being undertaken since the beginning of this year,” a senior military officer said.
The purpose of OTS was to squeeze space for the militants in North Waziristan, he said, adding that it was an ongoing process.
The military had not yet formally announced the start of the OTS. An operation in North Waziristan for eliminating Haqqani network’s sanctuaries has been a longstanding demand of the US and is one of the major issues which have been weighing down the ties.
According to some western analysts, delay by Pakistan “on the pretext” that its troops and resources have been stretched thin because of counter-militancy operations in other tribal agencies put its sincerity in the war on terror under doubt.
Militants affiliated with the terror group have, meanwhile, mounted high profile attacks inside Afghanistan. A New York Times report had said that it was a widely held perception within the Obama administration that the US could be one major attack away from launching a unilateral action against Pakistan.
With passage of time Pakistan has come under increased pressure to act against the most dreaded Afghan militant group having sanctuaries on its soil.
The army officer rejected the impression of any joint operation being planned, as reported by Wall Street Journal after ISI chief Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam’s visit to Washington last week.
He insisted that coordinated actions on both sides of the border had always been part of the routine and shouldn’t be misconstrued as joint operations. Joint operations with the US are a highly sensitive issue in the country rife with anti-Americanism. Any such agreement could intensify public criticism of the army.
“When, where and how to carry out operation within our territory is for us to decide,” the officer said.