Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
America expanding its undeclared war in Pakistan?
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned Pakistan of ‘severe consequences” if a future attack on the U.S. homeland is traced back to Pakistani militant groups.
It’s the kind of language that harks back to the Bush administration when they threatened to “bomb Pakistan to the Stone Age” if it didn’t cooperate in the war against al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban following the Sept. 11 attacks. Pakistan fell in line, turning on militant groups, some of whom with close ties to the security establishment.
In the wake of the failed attempt to bomb New York by a suspected Pakistani American who might have been trained by Pakistan militant groups, the United States seems to have turned up the heat again on Islamabad.
After a year of doling out carrots and trying to build a security relationship mindful of Pakistani sensitivities, the Obama administration has warned its strategic partner that the U.S. mood could sour if it indeed was proved that the suspected Times Square would-be bomber Faisal Shahzad was tied to Pakistani insurgent groups, the Washington Post said.
Pakistan had done a lot over the past in tackling militancy, but the United States “wants more and expects more ” Clinton said in a television appearance. The same message was delivered by General Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan to Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Kayani during a meeting on Saturday, the newspaper reported.
U.S. officials are privately arguing for a more muscular and unilateral approach towards Pakistan, pointing to an increasingly direct threat to the U.S. homeland from militant groups based there, the report said. This could include a geographically expanded use of drone missiles and pressure for a stronger U.S .military presence there.
But America’s undeclared war inside Pakistan has already been expanding and in many ways operates on an entirely different set of rules than the ones in play in Afghanistan. This week reports emerged that the CIA has been given blanket authority to target individuals in Pakistan with drone strikes even if it didn’t know their identities. The measure approved by the Bush administration and continued by the Obama administration amunts to a dramatic expansion of the drone programme in the Pakistan tribal region.
The new rules have transformed the program from a narrow effort aimed at killing top Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders into a large-scale campaign of airstrikes in which few militants are off-limits, as long as they are deemed to pose a threat to the U.S., the Los Angeles Times said citing unnamed counter terrorism officials.
As Noah Shacktman writes on the Danger Room blog, once upon a time the CIA had to know a militant’s name before putting him up for a robotic targeted killing. Now, if the guy acts like a guerrilla, it’s enough to call in a drone strike.