Will Pakistan military go after Taliban in North Waziristan?
Pakistan military officers are split. Some want to attack key North Waziristan Taliban, including the Haqqani network. Others don't want to challenge the Taliban leader who controls swaths of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
A section of the Pakistani military top command now agrees with Washington that the country's armed forces should be sent into the North Waziristan area, a sanctuary for al Qaida and Afghan insurgents, analysts and officials said Tuesday.Skip to next paragraph
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Due to resistance from the core army, however, any operation there could be half-hearted.
The Obama administration is pressuring Pakistan to follow its offensive against Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan with a push against Afghan insurgents and al Qaida fighters based in North Waziristan, a territory controlled by the Haqqani network, widely seen as the most dangerous rebel group in Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama said in his West Point speech two weeks ago that the US had "made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists whose location is known and whose intentions are clear."
Gen. David Petraeus, the head of the US Central Command, reportedly pressed for action in North Waziristan during a visit Monday to Islamabad, while Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is expected to reinforce the demand this week.
"I remain deeply concerned by the growing level of collusion between the Afghan Taliban and al Qaida and other extremist groups taking refuge across the border in Pakistan," Mullen said Tuesday in Kabul, just before leaving for Islamabad.
Afghan insurgent Jalaluddin Haqqani, who now operates through his son Sirajuddin, is viewed as close to the Pakistani military in a relationship that's dates 30 years. The Haqqani network is allied with but independent of the Afghan Taliban.
While most experts think that the Pakistani military would never turn on Haqqani, some senior Pakistani security officials privately are advocating a change in policy. The parts of the military that deal most closely with the U.S. seem to be the most convinced that Haqqani no longer serves Pakistan's interests.
"Once we're done with the TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) we'll go after Haqqani and all the others," said one highly placed Pakistani official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. "It is just a question of sequencing." The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, more commonly called the Pakistani Taliban, are the leading Islamist group in the country.
Among the reasons for growing disaffection with Haqqani are his tendency to support extremist violence, his lack of popular appeal in the majority Pashtun areas of Afghanistan and his broad control over the Pakistani Taliban, whom the Pakistani government has declared an enemy.