Monday, November 16, 2009

Expand military campaign against Taliban-US to Pakistan


The Obama administration is stepping up pressure on Pakistan to expand and reorient its fight against Taliban and al-Qaida and wants its army to pursue the militants into north Waziristan.

Washington has also warned that failure to do so would undercut new strategy and troop increase for Afghanistan that President Obama is preparing to approve of, The New York times reported quoting US officials.

This message was delivered by General (retd) James Jones, the National Security Advisor; who was sent to Islamabad by the US President, Barack Obama, and delivered a letter on his behalf to the Pakistani President, Asif Ali Zardari.

"His message, officials said, was that the new American strategy would work only if Pakistan broadened its fight beyond the militants attacking its cities and security forces and went after the groups that use havens in Pakistan for plotting and carrying out attacks against American troops in Afghanistan, as well as support networks for Al Qaeda," the paper said.

Times said Jones while praising the Pakistani operation in South Waziristan had urged officials to combat extremists who fled to North Waziristan.

According to the newspaper, if Pakistanis voice concerns about a lack of American commitment, they express equal concern that sending tens of thousands more American troops to Afghanistan could force Taliban militants into Pakistan.

"Whatever we do - put in more troops or put in fewer troops -- they'll freak out," an American intelligence officer who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid jeopardizing his relations with Pakistani officials, told The New York Times.

For their part, Pakistani officials have told Americans that they harbour two deep fears about Obama's new strategy: that the US will have too many troops on the Afghan side of the border and that the American effort will end too soon.

It is a concern that some of them say justifies Pakistan's continuing ties to the militants who fight American troops in Afghanistan.

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