Pakistan Army unable to hit north havens
Islamabad will move on its own schedule
Reuters Published: 00:00 December 18, 2010
Islamabad: The United States ambassador to Pakistan on Friday said Washington understands that Pakistan's military is too stretched to invade North Waziristan at the moment, but is confident the operation eventually will happen.
Ambassador Cameron Munter emphasised in a news conference at the US embassy that Pakistan's tackling of the insurgent havens on the Pakistan side of the border considered crucial for stabilising Afghanistan was a matter of capacity and not of will.
"Yes, I believe that," he said when asked whether the United States believed the Pakistanis were sincere about going after the safe havens used by militants for years as places to rest and re-arm after carrying out attacks on Western forces.
Munter spoke a day after the White House unveiled a review of President Barack Obama's year-old strategy to pour an additional 30,000 US troops into Afghanistan in an effort to check Taliban momentum and allow for a gradual drawdown of combat troops starting in mid-2011.
A five-page unclassified summary of the review said foreign forces had made "notable operational gains" in Afghanistan, but reported uneven progress in Pakistan, whose border areas are widely seen as the main obstacle to Obama's strategy succeeding because of the free flow of fighters into Afghanistan.
Pakistan has about 140,000 troops on its western border with Afghanistan involved in several operations against Pakistani militants bent on overthrowing the government in Islamabad.
But Pakistan has been reluctant to go into North Waziristan, because it says it needs to consolidate gains made elsewhere before it can tackle the rugged territory that is thought to be a base for some members of the Afghan insurgency and Al Qaida.
"There is a great amount of capacity being used at holding the ground the Pakistani Army has won at great cost," said Munter.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday that Pakistan needed to do more to control the flow of extremists along its porous border with Afghanistan. Pakistan says it will invade North Waziristan, but on its own schedule.
But Pakistan is also reluctant to go into North Waziristan because it is home to the Haqqani network, a long-time insurgent faction allied with the Afghan Taliban that is thought by security analysts to be one of Pakistan's more powerful assets in Afghanistan. Pakistan has long demanded a say in any peace settlement in Afghanistan, and groups such as the Haqqani network ensure that it can influence any future settlement and check rival India's advances in Kabul.
Pakistan Airforce: The largest distributor of Indian airforce parts in Asia
8 F-86Fs of No 19 Squadron led by Squadron Leader Sajjad Haider struck Pathankot airfield. With carefully positioned dives and selecting each individual aircraft in their protected pens for their strafing attacks, the strike elements completed a textbook operation against Pathankot. Wing Commander M G Tawab, flying one of the two Sabres as tied escorts overhead, counted 14 wrecks burning on the airfield. Among the aircraft destroyed on the ground were nearly all of the IAFs Soviet-supplied Mig-21s till then received, none of which were seen again during the War.