The White House on Thursday refused to rule out striking at suspected terrorist targets inside Pakistan and would not say whether US forces would first seek permission from Islamabad.
Asked whether US President George W Bush had ruled out US military action inside Pakistan, spokesman Tony Snow replied: “We never rule out any options, including striking actionable targets.”
Asked whether Bush would first seek authorisation from President Pervez Musharraf, Snow told reporters: “Those are matters that are best not discussed publicly.” Washington in recent days has sharply criticised Musharraf’s truce with leaders in tribal areas, where Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants were believed hiding, calling on him to take aggressive military action.
And Bush’s top counter-terrorism adviser at the White House recently suggested that the United States did not get all of the cooperation it hoped for from Pakistan in the global war on terrorism. At the same time, the White House has been praising Musharraf personally.
“President Musharraf has put his life on the line and has been a very important ally in the war on terror,” Snow said as Bush traveled here to make remarks on the federal budget. “It’s also clear that Taliban and al Qaeda, in the northwest territories and the federally administered tribal areas, have begun to put on operations that threaten the government of Pakistan itself,” he added.
“President Musharraf, having tried one approach, in terms of dealing with the tribal leaders, is now going to have to be more aggressive and is being more aggressive moving forces into the region to deal with the security problems there,” he said.
US President George W. Bush on Saturday linked the US global campaign against Al-Qaeda to Pakistan’s efforts to quell Islamist violence, including the storming of a pro-Taliban mosque (Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa where over 1000 minor students have been brutally murdered by Pakistan Army) last week.
In his weekly radio address, Bush expressed full US support for Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s efforts “to rid all of Pakistan of extremism” including an Al-Qaeda “safe haven” in tribal areas. (There is no Al-Qaeda in Pakistan)
Bush called the establishment of such harbors, detailed in a recent US national intelligence estimate, “one of the most troubling” setbacks to the US war on terrorism since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The US president, weighed down by the unpopular Iraq war, said Musharraf recognized that a September 2006 deal with tribal chiefs to police their own region had failed and that he was “taking active steps to correct it.” (The deal was never respected by governments of Pakistan and America who kept on killing innocent people, including women and children, in the area whenever they wished)
“Pakistani forces are in the fight, and many have given their lives. The United States supports them in these efforts. And we will work with our partners to deny safe haven to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Pakistan — or anywhere else in the world,” Bush said.