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Pakistan Army to launch North Waziristan operation against militants next week

Islamabad, Aug. 31 (ANI): Pakistan has decided to launch a full-scale military operation against militants in North Waziristan next week, sources have revealed.

The Pakistan Army is already engaged in an operation in Bajaur Agency to root out terrorist bases.

“This operation will be expanded to neighbouring North Waziristan Agency (NWA) region within days. Later, it will gradually be escalated to a full-scale military operation, which will be entirely different from one launched in South Waziristan and Swat,” the Daily Times quoted sources, as saying.

Sources claimed that the expected military operation was linked to the forthcoming U.S. presidential elections because a successful operation against the Haqqani network could help President Barack Obama win the polls. The U.S. has repeatedly demanded that Pakistan launch an offensive in NWA, especially against the Haqqani network.

It is believed that after the military’s operation Rah-e-Nijat in South Waziristan, nearly 3,000 militants went into hiding in Mir Ali Tehsil of North Waziristan, which has become a safe haven for them. It is likely that the army will launch the operation from there.

Sources said two army brigades have started advancing towards NWA to join around 30,000 troops stationed in North Waziristan and Bajaur agencies.

The Pakistan Army and allied forces have reportedly enhanced intelligence sharing and technical coordination for the upcoming operation. The army’s top leadership has even repeated its request to allied forces to make necessary arrangements for closing the Afghan side of NWA border in order to block the way of runaway militants.

Sources also said operation was being kept “top secret” as the army did not want to alert the Taliban. They added there were around 5,000 militants in NWA – “3,000 of whom are Pakistan’s enemy”.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had already hinted at the NWA operation but the Pakistan Army had been refuting his claims. (ANI)