Pakistani General Rules Out North Waziristan Offensive

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 4:30 pm (UTC-5)
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A top Pakistani army commander says the military has no plans to launch an offensive against Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants in the North Waziristan tribal region.

Lieutenant General Asif Yasin Malik refuted media reports earlier this week that said the military was planning such an operation at the request of the United States. He said Pakistan will undertake that type of offensive when it is in the country's national interest.

The general also described the situation in North Waziristan as “calm, peaceful and stable.” He said he has more than 30,000 troops in the region and reported no change in the status of those forces in recent days.

Army officials have said Pakistani troops are stretched thin undertaking military operations in other areas.

Militants have launched a number of attacks against Pakistani security forces following the May 2 killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

On Wednesday, police say about 200 militants crossed the border from Afghanistan and attacked a security checkpoint in the country's northwest, killing at least five police officers.

The attack occurred in the town of Shaltalo, in the Dir tribal area along the border with Afghanistan's Kunar province.

Also Wednesday, military officials say a helicopter carrying the head of a paramilitary force crashed into the Indus River in eastern Pakistan, with all five people on board feared dead.

The helicopter was transporting Major General Mohammed Nawaz, who commands the force known as the Punjab Rangers, when it went down in Punjab province.

Police say the cause of the crash is not clear, but that bad weather may be to blame.