"It is not a ceasefire," he stressed, "if they fire a single bullet we will respond with 10 bullets."

Military campaign

Violence has intensified in Pakistan in recent weeks with the military battling armed groups in three different parts of the country's northwest.

Troops backed by helicopter gunships and heavy artillery have for weeks been pounding what they say are pro-Taliban and al-Qaeda strongholds in the area, killing more than 560 people, according to officials.

The US says that al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters are based in sanctuaries in northwest Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun tribal areas on the Afghan border.

The suspension of military operations comes a day after Pakistan's army said it had killed 40 fighters in an air strike that targeted a rebel stronghold in the country's Swat region.

Deteriorating security in Pakistan has coincided with a faltering economy and political upheaval, with the resignation of Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, last week.

That was quickly followed by a split in the ruling coalition.