US planning unilateral attack on Pakistan Taliban: Report


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WASHINGTON: US military is looking at options for a unilateral strike in Pakistan if a successful terrorist strike on US soil is traced back to the country, senior Pentagon officials were quoted as saying on Saturday.

Plans for a unilateral strike were developed after ties between Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad and elements of the Pakistani Taliban were established, Washington Post reported.

"Planning has been reinvigorated in the wake of the Times Square," the paper said quoting officials.

But US retaliation, officials said, will be contemplated only under extreme circumstances such as catastrophic attack that leaves President Barack Obama convinced that the ongoing campaign of CIA drone strikes is insufficient.

The military bombing would focus on air and missile strikes but also could use small teams of US special forces currently deployed along the border with Pakistan.

"One of the senior military officials 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," the daily said.

US special operations team in Afghanistan has pushed for years to have a wider latitude to carry out raids across the border, arguing that CIA drone attacks do not yield prisoners or other opportunities to gather intelligence.

But a helicopter borne US special forces raid against targets in Pakistan in 2008 prompted protests from Islambad.

The Post said a senior official had told Pakistan that it has only weeks to show a real progress to crackdown against the Taliban.

Washington is insisting on Islamabad to launch a major strike on the Haqqani network of the Taliban which is suspected to have safe havens in North Waziristan, where Pakistan Army has shown reluctance to go in.

The paper said Islamabad has been "put on a clock" to launch a new intelligence and counter-terrorist operation against the group.

The paper said US officials have told Pakistan that Washington reserves the right to strike in the tribal areas in pursuit of world's most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden and other high value targets like his deputy Ayman al Zawahiri and Mullah Omar.