Pakistani opposition figure and cricket legend Imran Khan has said an army offensive was threatening the country itself and urged the United States to wind down its involvement in Afghanistan.
On a visit to Washington, Khan said the Pakistani military faced a crisis of morale, estimating that 25 per cent of the troops involved in the push in the troubled northwest belonged to the same Pashtun ethnicity as local people.
"Pakistan is at risk," Khan said at the Middle East Institute, a Washington think-tank. "How long will the government soldiers keep fighting their own people?"
Khan, who met US congressional leaders including Senator John Kerry, said that the United States must begin to end its
military campaign in neighboring Afghanistan first launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
"The US must think of an exit strategy in Afghanistan. As long as there is chaos in Afghanistan, or there is fighting
going on, there will be no peace in Pakistan's tribal area," Khan said.
Pakistani troops have waged a more than seven-week battle in northwestern areas after Taliban guerrillas advanced perilously close to the capital Islamabad.