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Pakistani Defense Chief Warns Of Anti-Taliban Offensive


Defense Minister Khawaja Asif speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Islamabad, March 6, 2014
ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan's defense minister says the army is ready to launch an offensive against Pakistani Taliban fighters if the militants violate a cease-fire and peace talks collapse.

In an interview with Reuters on March 7, Khawaja Asif warned that an anti-Taliban operation in Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas, near the Afghanistan border, could start as early as this month.

He said that without a "complete" cease-fire, talks with the militants are impossible. The recently opened negotiations between the government and the Pakistani Taliban are aimed at ending years of fighting in which thousands of people have died.

The process has been shaken by a series of attacks, including an assault Monday in an Islamabad court that left 11 people dead. Ahrar-ul-Hind, described as a Pakistani Taliban splinter group, claimed responsibility for the assault.

With reporting from Reuters
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