Senior American officials are reporting that the several month long Pakistani offensive in Bajaur is part of a broader military campaign which includes US strikes in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province, which they are calling Operation Lionheart.
There had been no previous indication that the two nations were coordinating operations in that region, indeed the US had previously seemed irked that the Pakistani military was focusing its efforts on Bajaur and the Swat Valley while ignoring the larger problem they perceived in North and South Waziristan.
The Bajaur operation has killed at least 1,500 militants and an unknown but significant number of civilians. Relief agencies have reported that more than 400,000 people have been displaced in the tiny agency, whose entire population as of the most recent census was less than 600,000.
It is unclear how welcome the news of this cooperation will be in Pakistan, where widespread public opposition to the continued unilateral US air strikes into Pakistan has led parliament to try to assert some measure of independence in their security policy. Finding out that their military’s only significant operation is part of a broader, US-led operation may not sit will with them, particularly in the same region where US strikes killed 11 Pakistani soldiers in June.
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