Pakistan Attack Hampers Peace Talks

from The Wall Street Journal,

Premier, Military Command to Meet in Wake of Assault That Left at Least 28 Dead.

The Pakistani Taliban's deadly attack on Karachi's Jinnah International Airport appears to have ended hopes for a peace deal, pushing the government toward an army operation against the militant group's strongholds in tribal areas, officials and analysts said on Monday.

A meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had pursued peace talks with the Taliban since last year, and the military's top command is set to take place in the next few days, officials said, adding that an offensive in North Waziristan, where many Pakistani Taliban leaders are based, will be the main item on the agenda. "This attack and other recent attacks mean it is going to be very difficult to revive the talks now," said Rahimullah Yusufzai, a veteran journalist who had been part of the government's team for negotiations with the militants. Any offensive would likely provoke a violent backlash across Pakistan by the militants, one of the reasons why the government has hesitated to order an operation, analysts said. Washington and Kabul have long urged Pakistan to clear out North Waziristan, the area on the Afghan border that serves as a sanctuary for Afghan insurgents and al Qaeda in addition to the Pakistani Taliban. "The answer to these [militants] lies with the Pakistan army," said Khawaja Saad Rafique, an influential cabinet minister, hours after troops secured Pakistan's busiest airport.

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