Pakistan Army Snubs US on Militants

Pakistan Army Snubs US on Militants
robertISLAMABAD – Angry with the Obama administration’s position on arch-rival India, Pakistan’s Army has rejected a US request to launch a new offensive against Taliban in the northern tribal belt.

“Our resources and situation on ground do not allow us to open a new battlefront against militants in North Waziristan or any other area,” Major General Ather Abbas, director general of inter services public relations (ISPR), told
Visiting US Defense Secretary Robert Gates reportedly asked Islamabad to launch a new offensive against Taliban in North Waziristan.
“I will not comment on that,” Major General Abbas said.
“But certainly this has been frequently reported in the media, and their (US) desire in this regard is very obvious. One does not has to do much to understand this.
“We do not want to attain something which we cannot retain.”
The spokesman said that the Army has no plans to open a new front against militants for at least one year.“Launching an offensive and capture some area is one thing, but to maintain that is totally different,” he said.
The Pakistani Army launched in October a deadly offensive in South Waziristan to uproot militants of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella group of various local groups in the region.
The Army is also engaged in fighting with Taliban militants in Orakzai, Bajur, Mohmind, and Swat.
“We have captured South Waziristan, but it is not end of the game,” General Abbas said.
“Now we are facing the challenges of return of affectees, their rehabilitation and rebuilding the area, which need huge resources and commitment.
“It will take between six months and a year to consolidate our achievements in areas taken back from militants. Only after that, we will be in a position to think about a new offensive.
“If we launch a new offensive, that will totally be in line with our national interest, rather than any other country’s interest.”

Pakistan denies any link between refusal to open a new front against militants and Washington’s position on arch-rival India or gaining more aid.
“We have not taken this decision to push US administration to entertain our demands regarding India,” General Abbas said.
“We have taken this decision keeping our internal situation and available resources in view. It has nothing to do with US aid.”
The Army spokesman, however, admitted that Islamabad has reservations about the US position on New Delhi.
“Yes, it is true that America is not addressing our reservations in this regard,” he said.
Pakistan accuses Indian intelligence agencies of operating against Islamabad from Afghan soil.
Islamabad also accuses New Delhi of patronizing militant groups in the tribal areas and the southwestern province of Balochistan, where secular Baloch insurgents are fighting for independence from Pakistan, a claim denied by India.
Pakistan is also angry with Gates’ praise of India’s measured response to the Mumbai attacks and warning to Pakistan of retaliation if Mumbai-like attacks are repeated.
“Pakistan itself is facing Mumbai-like attacks everyday,” Pakistani Premier Yousaf Raza Gilani was quoted as telling Gates.
“When we cannot protect our own lands from terrorists, how can we guarantee for India.”
General Abbas said Pakistan can’t pay full attention to the “war on terror” if its reservations regarding India are not addressed.
“We cannot pay attention on two fronts,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the US administration is not pressurizing India to come to the table talk.
“I personally told the US officials that if we (India and Pakistan) do not talk to each other, instead of talking about each other, Pakistan will not have any other option but to safeguard its national interests and security at all costs.”
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of which were over the disputed region of Kashmir.

Defense and security analysts agree that the overstretched army can’t open a new front against militants.
“Almost one-thirds of the Pakistan army is engaged in fighting,” Ikram-ul-Majeed Sehgal, a Karachi-based analyst, told IOL.
“It has shifted its focus from eastern borders to western borders. Its resources, including logistics, and ammunitions are depleting leaving army with no other option.”
Sehgal opines that the situation on the ground bars the Army from launching a new offensive against militants.
“It will not be wise decision to open a new front with current resources, especially when India has continuously been threatening Pakistan on its eastern borders,” said Sehgal.
Sehgal, who is editor of Defense General, a leading defense journal in Pakistan, holds US responsible for exhaustion of Pakistani army resources.
“This is shameful that under the head of coalition support program, Pakistan army, which has been suffering from huge losses, and actually fighting a war, gets only 1 billion dollars, while a sum of 16 billion dollars have been earmarked for the so-called Afghan national army, which is doing nothing.”


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