ISLAMABAD: Pakistan yesterday insisted its ongoing military offensive to eliminate insurgent hideouts in the North Waziristan tribal area would target all militants, including the feared Haqqani network.
The Pakistani military also demanded Afghanistan help the offensive by stepping up efforts to eliminate the leader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Mullah Fazlullah, believed to be in hiding across the border.
Two soldiers were killed yesterday in a second day of ground operations in North Waziristan, a rugged border district that has long been a haven for Taliban and Al Qaeda-linked insurgents.
Jets and artillery began pounding militant targets in North Waziristan on June 15, launching an operation to regain full control of the district that Washington and other powers have demanded for years. There have been fears that the Haqqani network, blamed for numerous deadly attacks on Nato forces in Afghanistan, would be spared.
US officials have in the past accused Pakistani intelligence agencies of links to the Haqqani network, with one top military officer once calling the militants a “veritable arm” of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.
Major General Asim Bajwa, the chief spokesman for the Pakistani military, insisted the current operation would target “terrorists of every hue and colour”.
“That means any terrorist who is on the soil of Pakistan right now within the area of operation,” he told reporters. “The terrorists of various hue and colour are not wearing different caps, so this will be an indiscriminate operation -- when they (soldiers) go there they will eliminate everyone without discrimination.”
The minister for states and frontier regions Abdul Qadir Baloch, speaking at the same briefing, said the government was clear that no one would be allowed to use Pakistan as a base for attacks.
“Anybody who has been involved in terrorist activities, whether he is Haqqani or not Haqqani, is very much included,” he said.
Nearly half a million people have fled the fighting in North Waziristan and Bajwa said the only people left there were militants. AFP