Pakistan premier Yousuf Raza Gilani today said his country would not succumb to any external pressure to launch a military operation in the North Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan, asserting that no one can ‘dictate us’ on the when and where of things.
Pakistan has been under pressure from the US to launch a military operation in North Waziristan on the lines of the one it carried out in Swat, but it has remained non-committal.
Speaking in the National Assembly or lower house of the Parliament, Gilani said Pakistan will not accept any pressure from the US or any other country to launch a military operation against militants in the restive tribal region.
“We can sacrifice our lives for the defence and security of the country, so no one should have the impression that they can dictate when military operations should be conducted in North Waziristan and South Waziristan,” he said.
The US has stepped up pressure on Pakistan in recent months to launch a military action in North Waziristan, which senior American military officials have described as a safe haven for Taliban and al-Qaeda elements.
Observers have said Pakistan is reluctant to act against militant networks in the region as they have close links to the security establishment and only target US and allied forces across the border in Afghanistan.
“I want to tell the House that the decision will be made by Pakistan on where to conduct a military action. No one can dictate to us,” he said in response to concerns expressed by parliamentarians about pressure from the US to move troops into the lawless North Waziristan tribal region.
Gilani, however, made it clear that his government would act wherever its writ is challenged by militants, as it did in the northwestern Swat valley last year.
Describing the impression that Pakistan launches military actions on the dictates of “American or foreign elements” as wrong, he said there will be “no compromise on the sovereignty and integrity of the country”.
The government has taken all sections of the political leadership, both within and outside the parliament, into confidence before launching operations against militants in areas like Swat, Malakand and South Waziristan, he said.
“No section of the political leadership will say it favours terrorism, all are opposed to it. The whole nation is standing up against terrorism like a wall because it has spoiled our economy,” he added.