US Hesitates to Strike Inside Pakistan

Fears attacks on militant leaders would upset Islamabad
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2008 2:25 PM CDT
Mangil Bagh, second right, Chief of the Pakistani radical Islamic group 'Lashkar Islam or Army of Islam,' attends a rally near the Afghan border, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2008.   (AP Photo/Mohammad Zubair)
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(Newser) – US commanders are itching to strike tribal militants in Pakistan, but Washington fears such a move could anger Islamabad's new leaders, the New York Times reports. American intelligence officials say the region is a growing threat, and warn that militants are forging alliances with al-Qaeda. But Pakistan is in talks with tribal leaders and doesn't want them scuttled by US attacks.

Pakistan has given the CIA limited permission to strike inside the country, but hitting indigenous Pakistanis is touchier than going after foreign al-Qaeda fighters. “It’s certainly something we want to get to, but not yet,” a Bush administration source said. “If you do it now, you can expect to do it only once because the Pakistanis will never help us again.”