US considers broadening drone airstrikes in Pakistan
Obama urged to expand attacks beyond tribal areas to territory controlled by the Pakistani government.
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The policy has also been challenged by leading Western security analysts who question if the net result is worth the short-term gains. David Kilcullen has provided advice for Gen. David Petraeus, commander of US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Dr. Kilcullen echoed Basit's sentiments, also calling the attacks "totally counterproductive," in an interview with Danger Room, a Wired magazine security blog.Skip to next paragraph
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US officials say the drones have taken out dozens of militants who were undermining American efforts in the region. Perhaps so, Kilcullen acknowledges. But using drones to attack those militants "[increases] the number and radicalism of Pakistanis who support extremism, and thus [undermines] the key strategic program of building a willing and capable partner in Pakistan," he writes in Monday's Small Wars Journal blog. Kilcullen gave much the same message, in testimony last week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Kilcullen doesn't think all UAV attacks are bad. "[As long as] al Qa'ida remains active and can threaten the international community from bases within Pakistan, the need to strike terrorist targets on Pakistani territory will remain. But our policy should be to treat this as an absolute, and rarely invoked, last resort," he notes.
As the Obama administration considers expanding covert operations in Pakistan, evidence continues to emerge linking the troubled nation to major terror attacks around the world. In Britain, it appears that terror cells received substantial support from militant groups in Pakistan, reports the CTC Sentinel, a periodical produced by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
It remains unclear if terror cells in Britain are reaching out to militants in Pakistan for help or if elements of the central Asian organizations recruit and incite their European counterparts. Without training and support from Pakistani militant organizations, however, many of these attacks would not have been possible.
As more evidence emerges from police and judicial investigations, it is becoming clear that many of the United Kingdom's largest terrorist plots developed as a direct result of the plotters' close involvement with senior members of al-Qa`ida in Pakistan. Indeed, it seems fair to say that without al-Qa`ida's direct involvement, many of these plots would never have become remotely viable. Other bomb plots carried out without al-Qa`ida's guidance have been far more amateurish and ineffective.
Concern continues to mount in India as the Pakistani Taliban appears to be growing stronger. An opinion piece in The Times of India argues that already large swaths of India's neighbor have fallen to the Taliban, posing a "serious threat" to India and other nations.
What makes a Taliban takeover of Pakistan particularly scary is Islamabad's nuclear arsenal. Washington's reassurance that Pakistan's nukes are adequately safeguarded with the US playing a supervisory role sounds increasingly hollow in the face of the Obama administration's dithering disguised as strategy that seeks to fight the 'bad Taliban' with the antibody of a specious 'good Taliban'. A nuclear-armed Taliban, whether 'good' or 'bad', whose sworn agenda is ceaseless war against all infidel nations which includes India, along with the US and Israel is South Asia's worst nightmare becoming a reality.
Meanwhile, as Pakistan struggles to overcome its own political gridlock there may be a "long road" to national reconciliation. The Hindu quotes State Department Spokesman Robert A. Wood saying that Pakistan is "a complex country. It's got a major problem that it's dealing with, and that's called terrorism."