Subjects: Asia news
In July, President Bush secretly authorized new rules of engagement allowing US Special Operations forces to conduct ground attacks within Pakistan. Bush did not notify the Pakistani government or its military before signing the orders.
News of the strategic shift follows a highly publicized US helicopter attack 10 days ago against a village 20 miles inside Pakistan’s border. The attack killed a handful of al Qaeda operatives and many civilians. Bush’s move was quickly denounced by Prime Minister Yousaf Gillani, who heads Pakistan’s first democratically elected government in 10 years.
Pakistan’s military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani leveled harsh criticism as well. “No external force is allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan” he said, adding that his forces would defend Pakistan’s sovereignty “at all costs.”
Before the policy shift, the Bush strategy called for collaboration with civilian and military leaders in Pakistan to root out Taliban and al Qaeda forces in Pakistan’s tribal regions. Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar and other undesirables are thought to be hiding in these areas.
“I’m not convinced we’re winning it in Afghanistan,” said Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen last week, “…(but) I’m convinced we can.”