US no longer informing Pak before attacking targets in its tribal areas

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Islamabad, July 12 : There has been a significant shift in the US military's strategy vis-a-vis Pakistan in dealing with counter-terror measures in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

As contrary to the past practice, the US Army has stopped informing Pakistan or its security establishment of any military strikes on suspected al Qaeda or Taliban targets in the region.

It's not clear when this unannounced shift was decided, but a senior Pakistani security official said the last three missile strikes inside the tribal areas were carried out without any prior intimation or consultation, the Dawn reported.

"We were not even informed of the planned action," he said, indicating that the trust-deficit between the Pakistani military and the US-led forces dealing with the terrorism challenge in the region had increased over the past few months.

Some senior security analysts described it as a serious development which they say may have serious consequences in the long run for the collective effort to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda in the tribal areas and even inside Afghanistan.

However, senior Pakistani security officials say that right now they are more concerned about the recent US military build-up in the region which they believe is primarily aimed at targeting suspected Al Qaeda sanctuaries in the tribal region.

The recent concentration of the US-backed troops near the Afghan side of the border, the movement of the American aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln from the Gulf to the Arabian Sea, coupled with the new rhetoric in some American publications about al Qaeda's increased presence in FATA and talk of a justified hot pursuit, were indicative of possible military operation, these officials said.

Although Washington has officially avoided talking of a direct action in FATA, America's top military commander Admiral Mike Mullen on Thursday expressed his reservations about the seriousness of Pakistan's efforts against al Qaeda.

Pakistani government and security establishment are seriously concerned about the adverse effects such a military action may have in the country, particularly its tribal region.

Some top officials say that if not handled with care it may have disastrous effects in the tribal region, where the sympathy for the Taliban may turn into outright support.

ANI

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