Though no conditions were formally attached to the newly announced $2 billion in additional US military aid to Pakistan, diplomatic sources are reporting that the new aid is conditional on the Pakistani government launching their long-promised North Waziristan invasion in a timely fashion.
The US has been pressing for Pakistan to escalate its war in the tribal area for years, with North Waziristan almost always at the center of the targets. Previous offensives have displaced massive numbers of civilians, but netted few militant leaders.
Pakistan has committed large numbers of soldiers to the tribal areas at US behest, and launched a number of offensives, including in South Waziristan and Malakand. The invasion of North Waziristan, which is targeted almost daily by US drone strikes, remains the illusive “next step” for officials, however.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi, however, insists Pakistan won’t be rushed on the offensive, and that they “have our own sense of timing.” Starting an offensive right now might be difficult, as the region will become virtually impassable when the winter begins.
North Waziristan will also be a difficult target, as Pakistan’s government continues to have peace deals with a number of the groups in the region which the US would presumably insist on them attacking. In the South Waziristan offensive Pakistan first burned its bridges with the groups it had peace deals with there, but repeating this in North Waziristan could spark a new flurry of attacks across the region, and the Pakistani troops are already stretched to the limit.