American forces start ground assaults in Pakistan
After starting air strike inside Pakistan airspace now US led NATO forces have started ground assault. The ground assault has also been accompanied by stepped up air attacks by unmanned Predator drones almost every day that have killed scores of people.
American are using new techniques to hunt terrorists more effectively. American has intensified its focus more on Pakistan after Democratic nominee Barack Obama has called for the same.
The United States and Pakistan are all but on the brink of a one-sided war, following President Bush authorizing ground assaults inside the country and Pakistan’s army chief Pervez Kiyani threatening to repulse any attack on its territory.
In swift moving developments, the US President has begun to move the focus of the seven-year old war on terror from Iraq back to the Afghan-Pakistan theatre, and in the process put Washington’s notional ally on notice over its inaction and/or covert support to terrorist elements.
In a speech at the National Defense University on Tuesday, Bush stopped short of calling Pakistan a terrorist state, while nominally saying it remained an ally. He warned that ''extremists are increasingly using Pakistan as a base from which to destabilize Afghanistan's young democracy.''
''Defeating these terrorist and extremists is in Pakistan's interest... also Pakistan's responsibility -- because every nation has an obligation to govern its own territory and make certain that it does not become a safe haven for terror,'' Bush said, in the starkest indictment of Washington’s waning ally. Some US officials have said Pakistan has not only failed to act against terrorism, but promoted it, including last month's attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul.
In fact, for the first time, Bush identified ''parts of Pakistan'' as a separate component in the war on terror, distinct from Afghanistan, with which it was hitherto hyphenated. ''Each of these three places I've discussed today -- Iraq, Afghanistan, and parts of Pakistan -- pose unique challenges for our country,'' he said.
The reason for Bush’s grim denunciation became apparent a few hours after his speech when the New York Times reported that he secretly approved orders in July that for the first time allow American Special Operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without the prior approval from Islamabad.
The order was confirmed publicly by Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen who told a Congressional hearing that he was ''looking at a new, more comprehensive strategy for the region'' that would cover ''both sides'' of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Mullen’s remark also corroborated a new policy that was evident on the ground last week when American Navy Seals, part of the Special Operations Forces, swept into Pakistan in an air-borne attack to take out terrorists. Some two dozen people were killed. The raid caused outrage in Pakistan, which said civilians, including women and children, were killed.
There was no immediate official confirmation -– or denial -- from Washington about the ground assault, until much later when unnamed officials acknowledged the raid and signalled a change in US policy. The gloves were off against Pakistan.
The new policy evidently involves accepting some collateral damage if intelligence inputs point to confirmed terrorist presence.
Washington’s changed policy re-directing the war on terror on Pakistan brought forth a huffy response from Islamabad where army chief Kiyani vowed to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country at all costs and insisted no external force is allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan.
But the statement appeared to be made more for public consumption and saving face considering the Pakistan’s parlous condition -- its economy has virtually collapsed -- and Washington’s unforgiving mood. ''The situation in the tribal areas is not tolerable,'' one official was quoted as saying. ''We have to be more assertive. Orders have been issued.''