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In Pakistan, Offensive Rages Against Insurgents

The Pakistani army continues to fight insurgents in the rugged hills of South Waziristan near the Afghan border. Judy Woodruff speaks with experts for more.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    That follows the Pakistan offensive against the Taliban and al-Qaida.

    Judy Woodruff has our story.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Fighting between the Pakistan army and insurgents is now in its third day in the rugged hills of South Waziristan, a region that borders Afghanistan. Some 30,000 Pakistani troops have taken on more than 10,000 militants.

    Pakistan's Air Force is also bombing insurgent positions. More than 100,000 civilians have fled the combat.

    For more on the military campaign, we go to retired Pakistani Lieutenant General Talat Masood. He's written extensively about security and political issues in Pakistan. And Robert Grenier was head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and chief of station in Islamabad. He helped to plan the covert operation to oust the Taliban and al-Qaida from Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. He's now chairman of ERG Partners, a financial consulting company.

    Gentlemen, thank you both for being with us.

    And, General Masood, to you first.

    What is it that the Pakistanis are trying to accomplish? What do they want to do here?

  • LT. GEN. TALAT MASOOD:

    Well, as you know, that, firstly, I think they want to reoccupy the territory which they have lost to the Taliban.

    And the government has no control over that area. The Taliban have become very assertive. They more or less control most of it. So, I think what the Pakistan government is trying to do, after having softened the targets and trying to sort of really make sure that there are no exit and entry points left from where they could escape, what they're trying to do now is to launch a very major offensive, which they have done, with more or less at full strength.

    And they're trying to then make sure that they're either eliminated or captured. And they have also have been targeting their training camps. They have also been targeting their leadership. So, it's a very major offensive, something very different to what has been in the past. This is a very serious matter, because South Waziristan is really the center of gravity of all, you know, what we have been hearing about the militants in Pakistan.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Robert Grenier, what do we know about how it's going so far?