US preparing for ‘new Pakistan raids’
Citing unnamed Washington officials, The New York Times said that the proposal would escalate special operations in Pakistan, opening a new front in the Afghan war.
The proposal “would escalate military activities inside Pakistan, where the movement of American forces has been largely prohibited because of fears of provoking a backlash,” it said.
The report comes only days after Washington employed a new strategy for the Afghan war.
The paper added that the new proposal is waiting for approval from US President Barack Obama.
“The decision to expand American military activity in Pakistan … would amount to the opening of a new front in the nine-year-old war,” said the report.
The United States has expanded its drone strike zones in Pakistan over the past week.
The US has almost doubled CIA-operated attacks, with over 100 non-UN-sanctioned strikes reported in 2010. The escalation comes despite protests by Pakistani officials that the drone attacks mainly lead to civilian casualties.
“It would run the risk of angering a Pakistani government that has been an uneasy ally in the war in Afghanistan, particularly if it leads to civilian casualties or highly public confrontations,” The newspaper added.
On Sunday, US Vice President Joe Biden suggested that the US is seeking to increase its presence in Pakistan because militants are trying to “bring down” the Islamabad government.
“Our overarching goal and our rationale for being there is to dismantle, ultimately defeat al-Qaeda… to make sure that terrorists do not, in fact, bring down the Pakistani government, which is a nuclear power,” Biden said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
The remarks come days after Obama blamed Pakistan for not doing enough to fight terrorism in its troubled northwestern tribal belt along the Afghan border.
More than 250 people have been killed in a total of 49 drone attacks the US has launched since September 3. The victims of the attacks have been mostly civilians.
Pakistani officials maintain that the missile strikes have proven “counterproductive” as large numbers of outraged residents of the border areas are beginning to support the militants.
“We believe that they are counter-productive and also a violation of our sovereignty,” Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said in early October.
In late November, Islamabad rejected a request from Washington to expand its drone missile campaign outside the lawless tribal belt along the Afghan border.
Basit said Pakistan would not allow the United States to carry out drone strikes in new areas.