Despite the pressure from the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) to conduct an operation against terrorists holed up in North Waziristan along the Afghanistan border, Pakistan on Friday made it clear that a decision on “when, how and what'' should be done would be made by Islamabad.

“While we understand International Security Assistance Force (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,'' said the Foreign Office in a statement.

The statement comes a day after four key American officials stressed on the need for an offensive in North Waziristan as ISAF believes cleansing this tribal agency of terrorists is central to some semblance of victory in the war on terror in Afghanistan. On Thursday, U. S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, ISAF Commander David Petraeus and a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation regional commander were quoted as underlining the need for launching an operation in North Waziristan.

Without referring to any of these statements in particular but acknowledging the focus on North Waziristan, the statement pointed out that the Pakistan Army — conscious of the threat and environment — has conducted calibrated operations against terrorist and extremist forces in various parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khyber-Pukhtoonkhwa to establish the writ of the State and disrupt/incapacitate Al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

As for North Waziristan, the statement sought to draw attention to the fact that Pakistan Army continued to maintain a presence of over 34,000 troops in the tribal agency despite its preoccupation with the floods. Pointing out that the Army has lost 500 men in the operations in North Waziristan alone, the Foreign Office added that 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.

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