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What a difference an embarrassing capture of a world-renowned terrorist leader makes!
The Pakistani newspaper The News International reported on Monday that Pakistan’s army will “commence a careful and meticulous” military offensive in North Waziristan in north-west Pakistan, thus fulfilling a long-desired American goal in the region. After the Pakistani army’s assault on South Waziristan in 2009, many of the Islamic extremists relocated to North Waziristan, from where they have continued to conduct their operations almost unmolested, except for American drone attacks, across the border against NATO and American forces in Afghanistan as well as against the Pakistani state.
The News states the decision for the North Waziristan operation was made last week when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen met with Pakistani President Asif Zardari, army leader General Ashfaq Kiyani and Lt. Gen. Shuja Ahmad Pasha, chief of the ISI, Pakistan’s main intelligence agency. It was Clinton’s first trip, and the first by such a high-ranking American delegation, to Pakistan since US forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in early May.
“We both recognise that there is still much work required and it is urgent,” Clinton said after the meeting, adding, in possible reference to the offensive, that Pakistan would be taking “some very specific actions” on its own and with the United States. She did not provide details.
Pakistan finally acquiesced to the long-ignored American demand for the North Waziristan offensive as part of a “barter” deal, in which Pakistan would get a “clean chit” from the Obama administration regarding the Osama bin Laden case in return for the military operation. But if Pakistan’s past record is anything to go by, the United States can only expect more duplicity and incompetence from Pakistani authorities.
The high-level American delegation had travelled to Pakistan to prevent the unravelling of American-Pakistani co-operation in the War on Terror due to the bin Laden killing. Despite its ally’s proven unreliability, America still needs Pakistan because of its strategic location in relation to Afghanistan and to counter the terrorist organizations present on its territory. The simple reality for America is that there is no one else.
At a conference in Paris before her Pakistan trip, Clinton had tried to soothe tensions between the two countries, saying Pakistanis had “been engaged in their own bitter fight against the terrorists.” But that did not prevent the visibly “cold” reception she and Admiral Mullen received.
“There were few of the smiles and warm handshakes that usually open such sitdowns, and reporters were soon shooed out of the room,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Pakistanis are angry that the Americans raided Osama bin Laden’s home in a secure military town not far from Pakistan’s capital without notifying them first. The American military obviously had feared someone in the Pakistani government would tip off bin Laden before the raid. Indicating the Americans’ deep distrust of the Pakistanis, one military publication maintains the United States was ready to attack Pakistan if any of its forces tried to interfere in the raid. A “huge naval and air force” had been assembled in the region for this purpose, including three aircraft carriers, to show the “instant, and far-reaching, consequences” interference would entail.
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