ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has not decided to launch a full-scale military operation in North Waziristan, the Interior Ministry said Saturday, adding that recent airstrikes and limited military action in the tribal region are in continuation of existing policy.
“No decision has been taken for a full scale military operation in North Waziristan and there was no decision to call off the dialogue process, nor has any such demand been made from either side,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said in an official statement issued in Islamabad.
The statement said the recent airstrikes are in continuation of the already taken decision that any act of violence or terrorism against civilian or military targets will meet a calibrated and measured response.
The interior minister also claimed that there was no decision to hand over security of major urban cities to the army.
“No decision has been taken to hand over the security of Islamabad and other major cities to the army nor is NACTA involved in this matter in any manner,” said the interior minister.
Security forces security forces have pounded militant hideouts in different parts of North Waziristan during the past couple of days, stepping up pressure on militants in the tribal region.
The ‘operation’ began a day after military planes and helicopter gunships attacked suspected militants’ hideouts in Miramshah and Mirali sub-district.
Officials put the death toll at 71 which, they say, include local and foreign militants. Residents, however, put the casualty figure at 80, including women and children.
Editorial: North Waziristan attacks
The military action launched on Wednesday has resulted in displacement of a large number of civilians seeking shelter in adjoining districts.
Sources in the military refuted a report by foreign news agency Reuters which suggested the offensive was launched without taking the political leadership on board.
“Aerial strikes of Wednesday in North Waziristan were carried out after the approval of the political government in response to terrorist acts during the last few weeks in FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Karachi in which several civilian and military personnel were killed,” a military source told DawnNews.
Key militant commanders killed
Meanwhile, sources have confirmed that five key militant commanders were killed in airstrikes launched on Wednesday in North Waziristan.
Among those killed was also an Uzbek Commander named Abu Ahmad.
Sources said other local terrorists who were killed included ‘Commander Qanooni’ and Commander Sabir, said to be a handler of suicide-bombers.
Others included Commander Gilamand and Commander Jihad Yaar, the sources added.