ISLAMABAD, June 16 (UPI) -- The Pakistani military launched airstrikes on Sunday in an offensive operation intended to "finish off" the Taliban "once and for all," Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said.
Asif spoke about the airstrikes to CNN, noting that they were the government's second option after direct negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban fell apart.
The Pakistani Taliban responded to the airstrikes by warning the government it would regret the military engagement; the Taliban promised to respond with equal violence and claimed that "the government will yearn for talks and peace but will realize that it is now too late."
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid also issued a warning Monday to foreign-run businesses and international corporations, directing them to "wrap up their affairs (and) leave Pakistan immediately."
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif defended the offensive military operation to parliament on Monday as a necessary response to failed negotiations with the Taliban. "On one hand we were pursuing dialogue, and on the other we were being targeted. We were pursuing talks, but from Islamabad courts to Karachi airport we were attacked."