Pak Army between 'devil and deep sea' over US pressure to move into N.Waziristan

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Washington, May 11 (ANI): Not only the civilian leadership, but the Pakistan Army too is facing the heat, as it is being pressed upon by the United States to extend its campaign against militants holed up in North Waziristan, following reports that Faisal Shahzad, the confessed Times Square bomber, had received terror training in that volatile region.

The United States has long been coaxing the Pakistan Army to launch an offensive in North Waziristan, however, the military has been reluctant to go into the region on the plea that it is already overstretched and lacks resources to open new fronts against the extremists in the troubled tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

"The army realizes that it must go into North Waziristan. They have been looking at this option for quite some time, but they have been hesitant as they are overstretched," Time magazine quoted retired general and analyst Talat Masood, as saying.

"It's a very complex area, particularly because there are elements there that are not so hostile to the Pakistani military," Masood added referring to the Haqqani network, an al-Qaeda linked Afghan Taliban group, which targets US led international forces in Afghanistan, but is viewed as a strategic asset by Pakistan's intelligence services.

"The army will prefer to take a limited operation, one that is confined to the Mehsud areas," Masood said pointing towards the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) warlord Hakimullah Mehsud.

With the US sending some strong signals, it is being speculated that the Obama Administration might send troops to Pakistan to take on the militants themselves, a situation which could be catastrophic, said Aftab Sherpao, who served as Interior Minister in General Pervez Musharraf's regime.

"The presence of U.S. troops would be truly disastrous. The mere presence of foreign soldiers would inflame public opinion to dangerous proportions, weakening the hand of the civilian government and the army," Sherpao highlighted.

He explained that dismantling the terror safe havens flourishing in the tribal regions was not that easy a task as the US and the international community believes.

"It will take years," Sherpao said adding, "You can't start operations against all these groups simultaneously. You have to proceed step by step. You have to consolidate your gains first, then move on to the next target."

But he also noted that the Times Square incident certainly served as a wake-up call for both the civilian and military set-up.

"The political and military leadership have to sit down now and devise a serious response.Otherwise, it will become very difficult," Sherpao said. (ANI)

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