RAWALPINDI  -Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani dismissed as speculative media reports about the Pakistan Army’s readiness to jointly launch an operation in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) with the US.

Some media reports also said that Gen Kayani had discussed the North Waziristan operation with ISAF Commander General John Allen in their recent meeting in Rawalpindi.

But the media wing of the Pakistan Army said that in his meeting with US CENTCOM Commander General James N Mattis Thursday night, COAS Kayani clearly reiterated Pakistan’s consistent perspective on the issue:

“We might, if necessary, undertake operations in NWA, in the timeframe of our choosing and determined only by our political and military requirements. It will never be a result of any outside pressure. Pakistan’s national interest continues to be the prime consideration for any decision in this regard.”

The ISPR said that Gen Kayani clarified Pakistan’s position and referred to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statement of July 3, 2012, in which she spoke of "coordinated actions against terrorists who threaten Pakistan and the region.”

The importance of distinguishing between ‘coordinated action’ and ‘joint operation’ led to misunderstanding implying US boots on the ground. Coordinated action, is a better description of the "pincer" sort of action that the Pakistan Army and ISAF forces will emulate on either side of the Durand Line to squeeze space for militants operating in the shadows of the international border. In the words of the ISPR, "All three parties have...commitments to expanding opportunities for coordinated action against terrorists on respective sides of the border."

For such actions, intelligence sharing is the mainstay of mutual cooperation.

However, a joint operation implies that the two forces are physically employed jointly on either side of the border, which was neither acceptable, nor was considered.

The Associated Press on Monday reported the US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta disclosing that General Kayani had discussed the planned operation in recent conversations with General John Allen. The Pentagon chief said Allen and Kayani have ‘discussed concerns’ about the Haqqanis, whose fighters have moved back and forth across the border to launch attacks in Afghanistan.

It said Panetta, while speaking at his Pentagon office, welcomed Kayani's initiative, even though he believed that the main target of the operation may not be the Haqqani leadership, saying he had previously ‘lost hope’ that Pakistan's military would take action in the North Waziristan tribal area.

"General Kayani did indicate that they had developed plans to go into Waziristan," Panetta said. "Our understanding is that hopefully they're going to take that step in the near future. I can't tell you when."

General James Mattis left Pakistan Friday morning after a series of meetings with senior Pakistani leaders. About his meeting with Gen Kayani, the ISPR said that both sides expressed satisfaction over the level of cooperation between the two militaries and resolved to continue it to further improve relations between the two countries.

Besides the COAS, the US Centcom commander also met with Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (r) Asif Yasin Malik and other senior military officials and discussed with them a wide range of common security issues, including militant network activities and measures to improve cross -border cooperation, said a US embassy statement issued here Friday.

General Mattis acknowledged the sacrifices made by the Pakistani military in their fight against violent extremists, and offered his condolences for the nearly 5,000 Pakistani military personnel who have fallen in support of that cause. He was grateful for the time afforded him by his Pakistani counterparts and reaffirmed the importance of the US-Pakistani security relationship, not only to ongoing operations in Afghanistan but also to regional stability.

NWA operation

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