Reports about N. Waziristan offensive denied: Operation not imminent, says corps commander
MOHAMMAD GAT (Mohmand Agency): One of Pakistan’s top military commanders ruled out on Wednesday an imminent offensive in North Waziristan, contradicting reports that the country had agreed to assault the militant-infested region following pressure from the United States.
Addressing a news conference in Mohmand Agency, Lt-Gen Asif Yasin Malik, commander of the 11th corps based in Peshawar, said there was no change in his forces’ posture in the last weeks.
“I have no such plans as far as I am concerned,” he told reporters. “We will undertake operations when we want to do it, when it is militarily and otherwise in the national interest to undertake such operations.”
Gen Malik sought to play down ‘media hype’ over the prospect of an imminent military offensive to meet US interests in North Waziristan.
“There has been a lot of media hype about the operation,” said Gen Malik. “I do not operate on press reports. I get orders from my high command,” he said in response to a question.
The remote, mountainous region has attracted major interest in the United States as a fiefdom of the Haqqani network, one of its most potent enemies across the border in Afghanistan and thought to have a core of 4,000 fighters.
Asked about the Haqqanis, Gen Malik hit back: “We are misusing the word ‘network’. It does not become a network if four people sit together somewhere.”
Instead he said the military was focused on maintaining an already ‘stable’ environment to undertake ‘developmental activity’ in North Waziristan, and confirmed reports that a cadet college in the area had been reopened.
The army had closed the college at Razmak after the Taliban briefly kidnapped 46 students and two staff in June 2009 as they were going home at the start of the summer holidays.