Military claims Army chief wants to complete operations as soon as possible.
The Pakistan Army on Thursday launched ground operations in North Waziristan near the Afghan border, the military said, part of ongoing moves against Taliban and other insurgents.
The operation was launched in Shawal valley hours after airstrikes in the Gharlamai and Shawal areas killed 43 suspected militants.
“Ground operations in Shawal, Waziristan, begin,” chief military spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa announced via Twitter on Thursday night. He said Army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif was looking to complete operations as soon as possible.
“He [Sharif] believes coordination between air and ground force teams will be most effective,” Bajwa said.
Analysts suggest the launch of ground operations shows the military is in the latter stages of its offensive in the region. “This [Shawal] is the last outpost of militancy and I believe the military is now moving in the direction of closing the operation,” said security analyst Hasan Askari. He added: “If the military don’t do it in two months time, winter will set in, making it difficult for them to accomplish the task. It seems air raids have been successful and it is now possible for the Army to take control of the ground.”
Earlier in the day, airstrikes killed 43 suspected militants. “Twenty eight terrorists were killed in Gharlamai area and another 15 were killed in Shawal in precise aerial strikes,” the military said in a statement Thursday.
The conflict zone is remote and off-limits to journalists, making it difficult to verify the Army’s claims, including the number and identity of those killed.