US planning to expand its 'covert' war beyond Pak's tribal areas: NYT

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Washington, Mar.18 (ANI): The United States may expand its military operation beyond the ungoverned tribal areas of Pakistan, particularly in Baluchistan, where top Taliban operatives are reportedly hiding and initiating attacks on the allied forces in the southern Afghanistan.

According to The New York Times, two of the high-level reports on Pakistan and Afghanistan that have been forwarded to the White House recently, have asked for broadening the target area to reach the Taliban and other insurgent groups to a major sanctuary in and around Quetta.

However, the Obama administration refused to divulge details about the widening of the American 'covert' war in the region.

"We're still working hard to finalize the review on Afghanistan and Pakistan that the president requested," spokesperson for the National Security Council, Mike Hammer said.

"It is fair to say that there is wide agreement to sustain and continue these covert programs. One of the foundations on which the recommendations to the president will be based is that we've got to sustain the disruption of the safe havens," another senior US official added.

In a separate report, commander of American forces in the region, Gen. David H. Petraeus and a top White House official, Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute have also viewed that expanding the American offensive beyond the tribal areas is necessary, particularly as Pakistan has failed to root out the ever growing insurgency.

Washington might ask Islamabad to deal with the issue more sincerely, but with Pakistan engaged in internal political conflicts, fear of financial collapse and a spreading insurgency, American officials say they have few illusions that the United States will be able to rely on Pakistan's own forces.

The US administration officials claimed that the Predator and Reaper attacks in the tribal areas have been effective, in which nine of Al Qaeda's top 20 leaders have been killed so far, but the chief target, Pakistani Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud still remains out of reach.

Aerial campaign was recently expanded to focus on Mehsud, as well as his fighters and training camps, and reports about several of the top Taliban commanders hiding in the sprawling Afghan refugee camps near Quetta or in some of the city's Afghan neighborhood makes US more determined to expand its war in the region. (ANI)

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