Greg Miller and Julian E. Barnes of the Los Angeles Times report that some “senior U.S. officials are pushing to expand CIA drone strikes beyond Pakistan's tribal region and into a major city in an attempt to pressure the Pakistani government to pursue Taliban leaders based in Quetta.”
“The proposal has opened a contentious new front in the clandestine war. The prospect of Predator aircraft strikes in Quetta, a sprawling city, signals a new U.S. resolve to decapitate the Taliban. But it also risks rupturing Washington's relationship with Islamabad,” they write.
Newsweek magazine's Mark Hosenball reports that President Obama thus far is opposed to expanding the drone program into more densely populated areas of Pakistan.
“Five administration officials tell Newsweek that the president has sided with political and diplomatic advisers who argue that widening the scope of the drone attacks would be risky and unwise,” Hosenball writes.
“Obama is concerned that firing missiles into urban areas like Quetta, where intelligence reports suggest that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and other high-level militants have sometimes taken shelter, would greatly increase the risk of civilian casualties.”
Some other reports and perspectives:
- 60 Minutes: President Obama’s interview
- Scott Atran (New York Times): “To beat al Qaeda, look to the East”
- Robert Kagan (Washington Post): “Armed for reality: The president’s foreign policy shift”
- Leslie H. Gelb (The Daily Beast): “Is Obama really a hawk?"
- Con Coughlin (Wall Street Journal): “Obama gives Britain the cold shoulder”
- Praveen Swami (The Hindu): “Ties that bind: Lashkar and the global jihad”
- Irfan Husain (Dawn): “Pakistan as a security state”
- Mustafa Qadri (The Guardian): “Pakistan is losing this great game”