A day after US State Secretary Hillary Clinton’s warning to eliminate al-Qaida, top Pakistan authorities have said that offensive in tribal regions that shelter Taliban fighters will go on until militants are wiped out.
According to a statement from his office, President Asif Ali Zardari, while speaking to members of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), said on Friday that “ there was no turning back … until the complete elimination of the militants”.
It may be noted that Pakistan launched a major offensive two weeks ago in South Waziristan, a desolate tribal region along Afghanistan’s mountainous border, where the central Pakistani government has long had only minimal control.
During her visit to Pakistan, Clinton said that she found it “hard to believe” that no one in Pakistan’s government knew where al-Qaida’s leadership was hiding and that once the current offensive is finished, “the Pakistanis will have to go on to try to root out other terrorist groups, or we’re going to be back facing the same threats.”
Needless to say, American authorities have maintained all along that Osama bin Laden and top al-Qaida lieutenants accused on 9/11 attacks operate out of the region along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan – a region that includes South Waziristan.
Major General Athar Abbas, the army’s chief spokesman, told a TV channel on Friday that the offensive would not simply disperse militants to other parts of the country.
“They are running, but our strategy is not to let them run,” he said.
The military’s goal was to “kill the maximum of them in this area (South Waziristan) because after running they will destroy the peace in other areas”.