Why US has opted for direct strikes in FATA ?

* Report says US is convinced Pakistan is neither able nor willing to fight terrorists
* Former US presidents had also authorised attacks on terrorist havens

WASHINGTON: President George W Bush’s orders authorising military strikes inside Pakistan mean that the US military will no longer need a presidential finding for each operation, while the responsibility for carrying them out will shift from the CIA to Pentagon.

According to intelligence sources, reports the Christian Science Monitor, officials from the National Intelligence Council recently briefed the Bush administration’s national security team on the potentially dire consequences of US actions that could destabilise the government of a country with nuclear weapons. Even before Bush’s July green light, the Congress had authorised the use of force against terrorist organisations and countries that harbour or support them, while Pakistan’s leaders had been warned of the dire consequences their country would face if they did not unequivocally enlist in the fight against radical Islamist terrorism.

Fighting terrorists: The Monitor report argues that Bush’s July orders signify that after seven years of encouraging Pakistan to take on extremists harboured in remote areas along its Afghan border and subsidising the Pakistani military for it, the US has become convinced that Pakistan is neither able nor willing to fight Taliban and Al Qaeda elements. Recent events appear to have convinced at least some in the administration that parts of Pakistan’s military and intelligence service are actually aiding the extremists. Even before the July order, the US had undertaken covert operations in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas, while the CIA had stepped up Predator missile attacks.

Authorisation: “Precedence for the orders authorising the attacks on terrorist havens can be found in President Bill Clinton’s authorisation of retaliatory attacks in 1993 (against Iraqi intelligence facilities) and in 1998 (against terrorist camps in Afghanistan and Sudan), and in President Ronald Reagan’s bombing of Libya, legal scholars say,” the report notes. While commando raids into Pakistan have been debated for years, the tipping point came after the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul and the one by the Taliban on an outpost in eastern Afghanistan that killed nine US soldiers. That was when the US decided that “enough was enough”. The new orders reflect flagging confidence in Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership to liquidate Taliban and terrorist safe havens in FATA.

According to one expert, one of the primary reasons the US has stepped up cross-border operations is because the Pakistanis are unable or unwilling to root out the terrorists. The US Defence Department’s General Counsel has interpreted international law to authorise unilateral action under these circumstances. A 1999 General Counsel assessment of legal issues in information operations states, “If a neutral nation is unable or unwilling to halt the use of its territory by one of the belligerents in a manner that gives it a military advantage, the other belligerent may have a right to attack its enemy in the neutral’s territory. khalid hasan

Source: Daily times, 16/9/2008

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