Pakistan: Concerning the North Waziristan offensive, Pakistan Army Major-General Zafarullah Khan told the press that the militant leadership remains at large and that some saw the operation coming.
"It will be wrong on my part to say that some of them did not escape," he said. "They could smell the operation was about to begin. The talks failed, the build-up for the operation had already begun and they could see that, they could sense and smell and therefore the leadership was not here. The leadership tried to abandon the place."
One Pakistani Taliban commander, Gilaman Mehsood, said in a telephone interview with the press that the military's casualty figures were incorrect and that most Pakistani Taliban fighters have taken sanctuary in the border areas of Afghanistan.
Comment: General Khan is one of the senior commanders for the North Waziristan operations. His admission is refreshing for its candor, but the Taliban commander's statement is probably more accurate.
The Pakistan Army has no authority to operate in the tribal agencies without special permission from the President of Pakistan and without informing the federal agents and tribal leaders. In addition, the Army requires the support of locally recruited tribal paramilitary forces to make any headway.
The result is that Pakistan Army operations in the tribal agencies never have operational security. The militants from local clans and tribes always get tipped off by fellow tribesmen. Even with the best intentions, the most the Army can do is disrupt the Pakistani Taliban and make tribal life uncomfortable for a time. The UN reported more than 700,000 persons have been displaced in North Waziristan.
Clarification. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry came to China's rescue today to clarify that China respects freedom of religion and that there is no ban on fasting. The misunderstanding is that government guidelines state that religious activities should not interfere with state functions.
Iraq: Today, the leaders of the Kurdish autonomous region reacted strongly to Prime Minister al-Maliki's accusation that Kurdistan harbors jihadists and Ba'athists. Kurdish region President Massoud Barzani said that Prime Minister al-Maliki had become hysterical and should resign.
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Nourish Shades, the highest-ranking Kurdish member of the government, accused al-Maliki of trying to divert attention from his "big security fiasco." He announced that the Kurds would boycott cabinet meetings until further notice.
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