Under fire Pak says "no lack of resolve to fight terrorism" in North Waziristan

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Islamabad, Oct 17 (ANI): Following the accusations made in a leaked White House report to Congress earlier this month that Pakistani forces were avoiding "direct conflict" in North Waziristan, Pakistan has defended its military policy in the northwest of the country, considered a hotbed of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda insurgency.

In a statement issued by the foreign ministry, Islamabad declared that there was no "lack of Pakistani resolve to fight terrorism," the Dawn reported.

The comments come as a wave of US drone strikes in the area continues, having killed more than 150 people and raising tensions between Washington and Islamabad, which condemns the US operations as a violation of its sovereignty.

Last year, Pakistan had sent 30,000 troops into South Waziristan to destroy Taliban strongholds in the area, but no similar offensive has been mounted in North Waziristan so far.

But the foreign ministry said in a statement: "While we understand ISAF concerns, any question relating to when, how and what is to be done in North Waziristan is based on judgment, keeping in mind our capacities, priorities and overall national interest."

"This in no way should be interpreted as lack of Pakistani resolve to fight terrorism," it added.

While part of the tribal belt on the Afghan border, North Waziristan- home to 350,000 people- is considered a stronghold for the most dangerous militants in the world and largely impenetrable, Washington has already branded it a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda, the paper said.

The ministry noted that the Pakistani army had conducted "calibrated operations" against terrorist and extremist forces to establish the writ of the state and disrupt the Al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

"Recently North Waziristan has been under sharp focus. Despite battling with the worst floods in 100 years, (the) Pakistan army continues to maintain a presence of over 34,000 troops in North Waziristan," the ministry said.

"Constant pressure and squeeze, without going in for a large scale ground operation, has been applied on the terrorists, with success, gaining better control of the area," it added. (ANI)

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