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Report: Obama Weighing Wider Covert War in Pakistan

By VOA News
18 March 2009

Pakistan's information minister said he hopes U.S. unmanned aircraft (Predator drone) attacks in the country's tribal region will not be expanded to include southern Baluchistan province.

The minister, Qamaruzaman Kaira, was responding to a report published Wednesday in The New York Times newspaper that said the Obama administration is weighing whether to broaden its covert military activities in Pakistan.

Kaira told reporters that U.S. drone attacks "have so far failed to achieve their objectives."

The U.S. press account said two high-level reports seen at the White House call for expanding American forces' targets far beyond Pakistan's tribal areas to include a major insurgent sanctuary in and around Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan.

Mullah Muhammad Omar, who led Afghanistan's deposed Taliban government, is believed to have operated out of Baluchistan for years.

President Obama is reviewing U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and an outline is expected later this month at an international conference on Afghanistan in The Hague.

The New York Times reported that many of Mr. Obama's advisers are urging him to continue the Bush administration's policy of attacking Islamic bases in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Pakistan has condemned the attacks, calling them counter-productive. The United States has repeatedly pressured the Pakistani government to do more to root out terrorist bases.

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