- India diplomat who touts women’s rights busted for $3 wage to nanny
- MSNBC host Ed Schultz paid $252K by unions in 2012-2013
- Korean War memorial ordered to take down Christian cross
- Billy Graham near death, ‘close to going home to be with the Lord’
- SeaTac, Wash.: City’s new $15 minimum wage heads to court
- Obama mulls support for Islamists in Syria, with conditions
- Obama ‘birther’ theories float, as Hawaii health director killed in crash
- U.S. drone faulted for killing 14 ‘innocent civilians’ at Yemen wedding
- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
Pakistan spurs pursuit of Taliban chief
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan | Pakistan ordered its army to go after the country’s top Taliban commander, a feared militant whose remote stronghold could prove a difficult test for troops but whose demise would be a major blow to the insurgencies here and in Afghanistan.
The announcement Sunday of the operation in South Waziristan, rumored for weeks, came hours after what appeared to be a U.S. missile strike killed five suspected militants there. The move will likely please Washington, which considers the tribal region a particularly troublesome hide-out for al Qaeda and Taliban fighters implicated in attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Owais Ghani, the governor of North West Frontier Province, said in Islamabad late Sunday that the government decided it had no choice but to resort to force against Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud and his network. Past army action in the region had usually faltered in embarrassing defeats for the army or ended in truces, strengthening the militants.
“Baitullah Mehsud is the root cause of all evils,” Mr. Ghani said, noting a slew of suicide bombings that have shaken Pakistan in recent days. “The government has decided that to secure the innocent citizens from terrorists, a meaningful, durable and complete action is to be taken.”
Mr. Ghani suggested the operation has already begun, though the military has insisted its recent attacks on militants in South Waziristan were retaliatory, not the launch of a new offensive. Two intelligence officials said the army and Taliban were fighting in the Spinkai Raghzai area of South Waziristan as the governor made the announcement.
“The government has made the announcement. We will give a comment after evaluating the orders,” army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said late Sunday.
South Waziristan, part of Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal belt, is a rumored hide-out of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. As the military has pursued a separate offensive against Taliban fighters in the northwest’s Swat Valley, observers have noted that the Taliban will not be defeated in Pakistan unless they lose their tribal sanctuaries.
The United States has frequently targeted South Waziristan with missile strikes. The suspected strike Sunday hit three vehicles and killed five suspected militants. Two Pakistani intelligence officials confirmed the attack on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
A new offensive could also mean more displaced civilians in Pakistan, already struggling to deal with more than 2 million who fled their homes in Swat and surrounding districts.
Pakistan’s decision comes as public opinion has shifted against the Taliban militants, who have been blamed or have claimed responsibility for a series of bloody attacks in recent weeks, including one that killed a prominent anti-Taliban cleric and another that devastated a luxury hotel in Peshawar.
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
- House budget bargain faces Senate filibuster; Republicans line up to oppose
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- Obama birther theories float, as Hawaii health director killed in crash
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- PRUDEN: The last living witnesses; they wore the yellow star and remember the Nazi terror
- Echoes of Cold War in Ukraine as Russia tries to rein in former Soviet satellites
- KEENE: James Clapper should resign for lying to Congress
- Kim Jong-un consolidating power or losing grip on North Korea's military
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- Broncos-Chargers game ends with several stabbings
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Consummate traveler Todd DeFeo explores the unique stories that make destinations worth going to.
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow