The Pakistani Army has finished its offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan, but may soon pursue militants in another part of the lawless tribal belt along the Afghan border, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Saturday.
“The operation in South Waziristan is over. Now there are talks about Orakzai,” Mr. Gilani said. He did not give a timeframe or any other details.
Pakistan’s Army launched a ground offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan in mid-October, saying it was determined to terminate its ‘No. 1 internal enemy’ from its most forbidding stronghold.
But the operation prompted a slew of retaliatory suicide and other bombings nationwide that have killed more than 500 people, attacks that have continued even as the military’s battlefield activities have slowed down in South Waziristan.
Many of the Taliban fighters in South Waziristan are believed to have fled to North Waziristan and Orakzai. The latter has been the home base for Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud.
In recent weeks, the military has launched several airstrikes against militant targets in Orakzai. Such airstrikes could be a prelude to a ground offensive, just as they were in South Waziristan.
Some 40,000 people are estimated to have fled Orakzai in the weeks since the South Waziristan offensive began, the U.N. said in a statement on Friday.