Pak snubs US, says can't launch any new offensive against extremists

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Islamabad, Jan.22 (ANI): Cold-shouldering US' demands of doing more against extremists in the tribal region along the lawless tribal region, the Pakistan Army has made it clear that it would not open any new front against militants until it fully secures and stabilizes South Waziristan and other troubled regions.

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Athar Abbas told journalists travelling with visiting US Defence Secretary Robert Gates that the military would not launch any new offensive against terrorists for six months to a year to give itself time to consolidate existing gains.

"We are not talking years. Six months to a year would be needed before Pakistan could stabilise existing gains and expand any operations. We are not in a position to get overstretched," The Daily Times quoted Abbas, as saying.

Abbas said the situation is not as "black and white" as had Gates described it recently.

Gates, who is leading 105 men delegation to Pakistan, met President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Tariq Majid and Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

"Islamabad has categorically told US Defence Secretary that it cannot undertake another military operation unless it secures and stabilises Taliban stronghold South Waziristan," sources privy to the meeting said.

During the meeting, the Pakistani leadership told Gates that it was difficult for the country's armed forces to launch new offensive against extremists.

Pakistan's stance is likely to upset Washington, which has been pressurising Islamabad to take stern action against banned terrorist outfits having their base inside the country.

Islamabad's snub comes at a time when the US has offered it a dozen unmanned aerial surveillance aircraft to encourage it to fight against Islamic militants on the Afghan border and 'do more' in the region. (ANI)

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