The U.S. has seriously considered executing secret cross-border raids into Pakistan to root out the Al Qaeda-affiliated Haqqani Network, U.S. military and intelligence officials told the Associated Press on Friday.
The U.S. has become extremely frustrated with Pakistan for providing insurgents with sanctuary inside its northwest tribal region, which enables militants to conduct hit-and-run operations against NATO forces across the border in Afghanistan.
The timing of this leak is interesting because it comes within hours of General John Allen blaming the Haqqanis for orchestrating a 12-hour siege on a lakeside hotel in Kabul that killed 18 people within the past 48 hours.
“Afghan national security forces and coalition military sources acknowledge that this attack bears the signature of the Haqqani network, which continues to target and kill innocent Afghans and blatantly violate Afghan sovereignty from the safety of Pakistan,” Allen said.
Members of the Haqqani Network have been targeted by drones numerous times, however, sending American and Afghan troops into Pakistan would be a serious escalation of the hunt for terrorists, which Pakistan said it would view as a blatant violation of its sovereignty.
According to the AP, the Haqqani tribe runs “a mafia-like smuggling operation and occasionally turns to terrorism with the aim of controlling its territory in eastern Afghanistan.”
Just weeks ago Leon Panetta said the U.S. was running out of patience with Pakistan over its refusal to eliminate terrorist safe havens.
Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan have spiraled downhill since a November ISAF airstrike killed over 20 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan cut off NATO supply routes into Afghanistan in retaliation, although the coalition has found alternative routes by working with other of Afghanistan’s Central Asian neighbors.
Many experts believe this “cold war” with Pakistan has damaged the relationship beyond repair. Meanwhile, Pakistan has been distracted by internal political turmoil and testing nuclear missiles driven by the country’s obsessive mistrust of neighboring India.
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