Panetta: Pakistan to target Taliban forces on Afghan border

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday that the Pakistani military has indicated it will soon begin combat operations in its Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) against the Taliban.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Panetta said Pakistan’s top military official has relayed to the U.S. that the military is planning new operations in the FATA region, where U.S. drone strikes have targeted militants who have launched cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.

Panetta said he didn’t know when the new mission would start but said it would be the “near future,” according to the AP. He said the main target would be the Pakistani Taliban, rather than the Haqqani Network.

U.S. Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, received word of the planned operation when he met recently with Pakistan’s military chief, according to Panetta.

ADVERTISEMENT

U.S. military officials have complained publicly about Pakistan’s porous border, which allows militants to stage attacks in Afghanistan and then retreat safely into Pakistan.

Pakistan has, in turn, complained about U.S. drone strikes in the FATA, as well as Afghan Taliban attacks in Pakistan.

The border is just one of a number of issues that have hampered U.S.-Pakistan relations in the past year, which the two sides have attempted to improve in recent weeks after Pakistan re-opened a critical NATO supply route into Afghanistan.