Over the past few months, the United States is mounting heavy pressure on Pakistan to extend its counterinsurgency operations to North Waziristan Agency (NWA) and go after the Haqqani network, arguably a very powerful group among the Afghan Taliban. A widespread consensus has also been built through an orchestrated media campaign that North Waziristan is a global hub and nerve-center of militant networks terrorism. Although it is an old US demand, but now for quite some time pressure is being intensified because the Obama administration considers it essential to dismantle the Haqqani network to claim victory in Afghanistan. But Pakistani authorities are reluctant to go after militant groups such as Haqqani network, fearing a fierce blowback inside the country. Another inhibiting factor is that the army is over-stretched in other tribal regions and getting sucked into fighting on difficult terrain. North Waziristan is mainly a land of rugged mountains excluding the bordering region that separates North Waziristan from South Waziristan. Opening up an active new front in North Waziristan would be just like stoking a beehive i.e., antagonising Mullah Nazir in Wana sub-division of South Waziristan, Hafiz Gul Bahadurs Taliban faction, based in and west of Miram Shah, as well as a host of other militant entities. So far, Mullah Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadar have opposed fighting the Pakistani military and prefer to focus their attention on Afghanistan. The military has cut peace deals with Nazir and Bahadar in the past and Gul Bahadurs group had also allowed the Pakistan Army free passage through North Waziristan when it staged operations in South Waziristan in 2009. The Pakistani military also openly supported Mullah Nazir as he sought to eject elements of the Islamic Jihad Union, an Uzbek terror group, from his tribal areas. The US wants Pakistan army to launch an operation against the Haqqani network and Hafiz Gul Bahadur-led Taliban, since the Americans view these groups as a block to their victory in Afghanistan. But this seems totally impossible due to some ground realities. Bahadar, the Haqqanis, and Nazir are estimated to have more than 50,000 forces combined. In addition, more than 10,000 battle hardened militants including foreigners like Arabs, Uzbeks, Chechens, Indonesians, Tajiks and some European nationals affiliated with Al-Qaeda are present in the area. The nightmare scenario would be the Haqqanis, Bahadur, al Qaeda and other hardcore militant groups turning on the Pakistani army in retaliation for a North Waziristan operation. The country will have to face a deadly wave of suicide attacks if the Pakistan Army undertakes operation in North Waziristan after American prodding. It must not be forgotten that in past inconclusive and limited operations led small and scattered militants organisations often rival to each other to get united against a common foe i.e, Pakistan Army. The same approach led Hafiz Gul Bahidar in North Waziristan and Maulvi Nazeer to join hands with their rival Baitullah Mehsud under a new brand Itihad-e-Shura-e-Mujahideen. The last time the Pakistani military took on the Taliban in North Waziristan was in October 2007. The Pakistani military and the Taliban fought pitched battles after the military launched artillery barrages and aircraft assaults against Taliban-controlled villages in North Waziristan. The Taliban responded by setting up complex ambushes, including surface-to-air missile traps. Several Pakistani Army helicopters were also said to have been shot down during the fighting. But at the end of October 2007, the government had to push for a peace deal and the fighting waned. The Taliban, led by the Haqqani Network and Hafiz Gul Bahadar, remained entrenched in the region. In all likelihood, the advance on North Waziristan is fraught with multiple risks and we must resist this pressure as it is not in our national interest to do so. A large-scale operation in North Waziristan would also jeopardise its efforts to clean up others areas. While fighting Americas war, our military and political rulers cannot ignore our own strategic interests in this region. The US will sooner or later have to leave but we are here to stay and Afghanistan being a neighboring country will always have significant implications for our own security and well being. RIZWAN ASGHAR, Lahore, November 21.