As Pakistan’s Bajaur offensive moves into its fourth month, Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen has praised the operation as having “great significance” in security along the Afghan-Pakistan border in the region. The announcement comes just days after US officials acknowledged that the Bajaur offensive was part of a broader US-led military campaign called Operation Lionheart.
Prior to the announcement the US seemed annoyed at Pakistan’s focus on Bajaur, while insisting that the real center of the battle was in North and South Waziristan. Since then the US has revealed broader cooperation on a number of other fronts, and what seemed like two allies operating at cross-purposes as tensions grew worse and worse now seems to be a scripted reaction.
The American imprimatur for the Bajaur offensive isn’t likely to win it any more fans among the Pakistani populace. American military involvement in the tribal regions has been unpopular to the point that the two sides reached a tacit agreement whereby the Pakistani government would publicly complain about the US strikes while privately ignoring them.
The announcement also comes as a surprise as the Pakistani military does not appear to have noticed a benefit on their end, and complained several times that militants have been infiltrating from Afghanistan into the tiny border agency.
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