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– BUSH APPROVED RAIDS INTO PAKISTAN

Just a day after the chairman of the USA Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, told Congress, on Wednesday 09/10/2008, that he was “looking at a new, more comprehensive strategy” that would cover both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border but USA must continue to work closely with Pakistan, It was leaked to the press that President George W Bush has authorized USA military raids against militants inside Pakistan, in FATA areas, without prior approval from Islamabad (see – Loosing Patience).

An unnamed senior Pentagon official told the classified order had been made within the past two months. The order includes the use of conventional ground troops crossing the border into Pakistan to pursue militants there although Pakistan has said it will not allow foreign forces onto its territory.

An unnamed former intelligence official told the New York Times that the Pakistani government is not told about intended targets because of concerns that its intelligence services – ISI are infiltrated by Al Qaeda supporters.

The Pakistani ambassador to the US has disputed the claim, first reported in the New York Times. “In our bilateral discussions, no such idea has been mooted and will certainly not be accepted by Pakistan,” Husain Haqqani,  the son of Jalaluddin Haqqani , told Reuters. “Pakistan would not accept foreign troops. This is not the best way to pursue the war against terror,” he said. Islamabad fears that attacks by US troops could encourage support for the Taliban militants among tribal groups in the border area.

Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said there was “no question of any agreement or understanding with the coalition forces whereby they are allowed to conduct operations on our side of the border”. He said the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan would be defended at all cost. 

There is growing US frustration with Islamabad’s lack of assertive action against the militants and an increasing concern about the threat such militants pose to NATO-ISAF troops in neighboring Afghanistan. USA is already carrying out regular military air strikes on Pakistan from Afghanistan, but ten days ago US troops carried out a ground assault in FATA area for the first time (see – Miranshah 09.03.08 ).

The US move to focus efforts on the Afghan-Pakistan border was welcomed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. “Change of strategy is essential,” Mr Karzai said at a news conference in Kabul, on Thursday 09/11/2008. “It means that we go to those areas which are the training bases and havens – we jointly go there and remove and destroy them.”

 

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