NATO deploys on Pak-Afghan border; Gilani: Operations against militants in tribal areas to continue; Obama calls for shift in US focus from Iraq to militants’ sanctuary in Pakistan
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  • The Pakistan Army went on high alert after reports noted that NATO forces were deployed along the Afghan border. Helicopters were also deployed and troops were airlifted to the area further escalating tensions1. Reports noted that coalition forces positioned in Paktita province of Afghanistan launched an offensive in Pakistan’s North Waziristan Agency on July152. However, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, talking to the press at the Pentagon on July 16 denied the reports, calling them ‘exaggerated3.’

    Security forces meanwhile seized control of Zargari town on July 17 after a fierce operation against the Taliban4. Reports also noted that peace talks in NWFP with Baitulla Mehsud broke down with Mehsud issuing an ‘ultimatum’ to the provincial government to resign5. Amidst these developments, Prime Minister Gilani asserted that the security forces would continue to operate against the militants in the tribal areas to avert a security threat such as 9/116.

    In other developments, the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on July 15 stated that US foreign policy needed to shift its ‘single-minded’ focus on Iraq and instead concentrate on the tribal areas in Pakistan which have provided a safe haven to the militants7.