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Another US strike against Pakistani terrorists

It seems that a line has been drawn after the first attack in September where US troops crossed the Afghan-Pakistan border and killed people inside Pakistan. This was supposed to be based on a decision by US President which allowed US troops to cross the border and attack inside Pakistan without asking permission from Pakistani territories. This decision was publicly strongly opposed by both the Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Kayani, and the President Asif Zardari. The attack led to massive protests inside Pakistan and would have been indefensible for Pakistani authorities.
It seemed pretty clear that a public line had been drawn in the sand whereby US troops could not land inside Pakistan and do operations. However, at the same time, it seems clear that missile strikes by American drone aircraft are permissible. There is only token protest, and the attacks keep on happening at regular intervals.

What seems probable is that a decision has been taken whereby the extent of engagement has been decided. It would also be clear that there must have been tremendous US pressure on Pakistan to do more, or to stand aside and let US troops in (and also forego the massive financial support). It cannot be a coincidence that the last few days have seen a major escalation of the conflict between the Pakistani army and its own Taleban (even though the Pakistani army has lost a lot of its sheen in this conflict):

Missiles, believed to have been fired from US drone aircraft, killed as many as 21 people in one part of Pakistan’s tribal area yesterday. Pakistani intelligence officials said most of the dead were militants, but the attacks will aggravate strains between the two countries over American military assaults on targets in Pakistan. Pakistani officials said two villages in the North Waziristan area were hit just before dusk by the missiles. News reports identified 16 of the dead as “foreigners”, a term which usually describes fighters from Arab countries or Central Asia.
Pakistan’s military and civilian leaders have complained that missile attacks violate the country’s sovereignty and anger the local population, making it harder to crack down on the extremists. US commanders have spoken of respect for Pakistan’s sovereignty but have suggested they would not stop cross-border strikes on militants whom they suspect of aiding the Taliban insurgency across the border in Afghanistan.

These strikes are also hard for the Pakistani establishment to defend, but they must have calculated that this is a position that can be defended. Not letting the Americans do so otherwise would lead to a much major problem in terms of a confrontation with an enraged nation (the US has concluded that Pakistan under Musharraf did not live upto all its promises of acting against terror).

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