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The New York Times reported Thursday that President Bush authorized U.S. forces to conduct raids against Taliban and al-Qaida strongholds inside Pakistan's border region without the approval of Islamabad. Regional and security experts assess the reports.
For months, the U.S. military and the Bush administration have grown increasingly frustrated with the safe haven afforded Taliban and al-Qaida guerrillas in Pakistan. Now that haven may be a little less safe.
The New York Times reported today that President Bush, two months ago, approved orders allowing U.S. special operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without prior approval from Islamabad.
Last Wednesday, U.S. special forces raided a village in Pakistan, killing several alleged al-Qaida fighters. That came on the heels of an increasing number of U.S. missile strikes by unmanned drones in recent months on targets in Pakistan's tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan.
Yesterday, Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, denounced the ground raid, and said, "No external force is allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan."
But, yesterday, in Washington, U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen spoke of Afghanistan and Pakistan as one battleground.
ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, Joints Chiefs Chairman:
These two nations are inextricably linked in a common insurgency that crosses the border between them. You have all seen the challenges we have faced, particularly in the south and east, as Taliban and al-Qaida fighters grow bolder and more sophisticated. You have seen the willingness of these disparate groups of fighters to better collaborate and communicate from safe havens in Pakistan.
For more on all this, we get two views, Robert Grenier formerly headed the CIA's Counterterrorism Center. Earlier, he was the CIA station chief in Islamabad. He helped plan the CIA operation against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan after 9/11. He's now with the consulting firm Kroll. And Vikram Singh worked on counterinsurgency and peacekeeping — peacekeeping operations at the Pentagon during the Bush administration. He's now a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank. He just returned from Afghanistan.
Welcome to you both.
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