Thursday, December 23, 2010

US Threatens Cross-Border Ground Offensives at Pak

US media outlets, led by the NYT, have leaked alleged plans by the US govt to launch ground offensives across the border into Northern Pakistan. Predictably, this has triggered much anger and consternation in Pakistani circles.

But are these sudden rumors of a new shift towards ground raids based on reality? My personal impression is that these rumors are being deliberately floated by US officials in response to Pakistan's recent outing of the CIA station chief in Islamabad over the drone strikes.

My feeling is that the US is using its media to deliberately issue such "leaks" as a way to send warning signals to Pak, and apply pressure on it. The US is telling Pakistan that if it endangers the drone strike program, then this will force the US to consider options that will be much more unpleasant for Pak, like ground offensives. In other words - accept the drone strikes or else.

Presumably, the US wishes to preserve drone strikes as its preferred strategy, because it views this as the least risky way to go after the terrorists, since it doesn't require putting any troops in harm's way.

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