Washington, May 29 (IANS) The US military is reviewing options for a unilateral strike in Pakistan in the event that a successful terror attack on American soil is traced to the country’s tribal areas, according to the Washington Post.
Ties between the alleged Times Square bomber, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, and elements of the Pakistani Taliban have sharpened the Obama administration’s need for retaliatory options, the influential daily reported Saturday citing senior military officials.
A US reprisal, however would be contemplated only under extreme circumstances, such as a catastrophic attack that leaves President Barack Obama convinced that the ongoing campaign of CIA drone strikes is insufficient, the unnamed officials stressed.
The US options for potential retaliatory action rely mainly on air and missile strikes, but could also employ small teams of US Special Operations troops already positioned along the border with Afghanistan, the Post said.
Plans for military strikes in Pakistan have been revised significantly over the past several years, moving away from a ‘large, punitive response’ to more measured plans meant to deliver retaliatory blows against specific militant groups, one of the senior military officials was quoted as saying.
The official added that there is a broad consensus in the US military that airstrikes would at best erode the threat posed by Al Qaeda and its affiliates, and risk an irreparable rupture in the US relationship with Pakistan.
At the same time, the administration is trying to deepen ties to Pakistan’s intelligence officials in a bid to head off any attack by militant groups.
The United States and Pakistan have recently established a joint military intelligence centre on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar, and are in negotiations to set up another one near Quetta, the Pakistani city where the Afghan Taliban is based, the Post said citing US military officials.
US spy agencies have engaged in a major buildup inside Pakistan over the past year. The CIA has increased the pace of drone strikes against Al Qaeda affiliates, a campaign supported by the arrival of new surveillance and eavesdropping technology deployed by the National Security Agency, the Post said.