New York, Apr.30 (ANI): The Pakistan Army, which has been reluctant to take on the Taliban and other extremist groups operating from the terror hot bed of North Waziristan, is now coming to terms that it must focus on the restive tribal region for the country's own interests, Pakistani and US officials have said.
North Waziristan has long been considered as the most important safe haven for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, where Islamabad has nurtured militant groups for years to run proxy wars across it borders.
According to US officials, the Pakistan Army is now beginning to understand that it was important to take on both the Taliban, which is targeting the state, and also those groups that are fighting against the foreign forces in Afghanistan.
"This is a scary phenomenon. All these groups are beginning to morph together," The New York Times quoted a US official, as saying.
However, both Pakistani and Western officials said that any operation in North Waziristan by the Pakistan Army is likely to be months away.
"And even if it is undertaken, the offensive may not completely sever Pakistan's relationship with the militants, like Sirajuddin Haqqani, who serve its interests in Afghanistan," the newspaper observed.
North Waziristan has long been a sanctuary for the Haqqani group, which is believed to be a longtime 'asset' of the Pakistan military and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
A top Pakistani official, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, admitted that North Waziristan is at the core of the terror issue in the country, which needs to be addressed immediately.
"The source of the problem is in North Waziristan, and it will have to be addressed," he said.
Analysts also pointed out that an offensive in North Waziristan is imminent.
"An operation could come sooner, not least because officers on the ground are calling for it. More frequent attacks emanating from North Waziristan are likely to lead to a reaction sooner rather than later as field commanders feel the pressure to protect their troops," said Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia program at the Atlantic Council in Washington.
The Pakistan military not only has to tackle the Taliban and Al-Qaeda extremists in North Waziristan, but it also has to tackle those splintered militant groups comprising of Pashtun tribesmen, Arabs, Uzbeks and ethnic Punjabis which are fighting separately, the newspaper said.
Though consensus is fast building up that the North Waziristan based terror groups must be targeted, it still remains to be seen how the Pakistan Army, which is already fighting on several fronts and often complains of lack of resources to push into the terror hot bed for at least several months, takes up the challenge. (ANI)