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U.S. commanders urge wider Pakistan attacks report PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 21 April 2008

REUTERS, NEW YORK - U.S. commanders in Afghanistan have recently urged expanding the war effort, possibly including U.S. attacks on indigenous Pakistani militants inside Pakistan's tribal areas, The New York Times reported in Sunday editions.

Citing U.S. officials, the Times reported the requests had been rebuffed for now following internal Bush administration deliberations in which U.S. officials expressed fears that attacks on Pakistani radicals could foment anger within Pakistan's new government, which has been negotiating with the militants, and destabilize security there.

One Bush administration official said the Washington discussions involved President George W. Bush's top national security aides and took place earlier this year. White House and State Department spokesmen declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for the U.S. ambassador in Pakistan, Anne Patterson, the Times said.

Officials said the U.S. proposals included possible limited cross-border artillery strikes into Pakistan, missile attacks by Predator aircraft or raids by small teams of CIA paramilitary forces or Special Operations forces, according to the Times.

The newspaper reported that U.S. commanders preferred that Pakistani forces conduct such attacks, but that Pakistani military operations in the tribal areas had declined as negotiations with the militants played out.

U.S. officials in Afghanistan urging attacks in Pakistan had discussed possible targets with Patterson, the Times said. The U.S. commanders' requests for attacks were described by officials who were briefed on the discussions and spoke on the condition of anonymity, the newspaper said.

The Times said that while Pakistan had given the CIA limited authority to kill Arab and other foreign operatives in tribal regions, it had placed greater restrictions on U.S. operations against indigenous Pakistani militant groups, including one thought to have been behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto last December.

It was not clear whether senior Washington officials were part of the debate on authorizing attacks, the Times said.

U.S. officials said they had not ruled out striking Pakistani militants in the tribal areas, the report said. "It's certainly something we want to get to, but not yet," the Times quoted an administration official as saying.
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