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Obama puts Islamabad on notice

Obama puts Islamabad on notice

Author: Chidanand Rajghatta
Publication: The Times of India
Date: March 30, 2009

Introduction: 'Pak Has To Be Made Accountable'

The United States will continue with its drone attacks aimed at high-value terrorist targets in Pakistan but will not send in ground troops, President Barack Obama said on Sunday, indicating that the restraint is subject to Pakistan forsaking its support to terrorism.

The US President led a raft of American officials who fanned out on Sunday talk shows to expound on the new Af-Pak policy he announced on Friday, and which pundits reckon is focused on Pakistan. Asked on CBS' Face the Nation if he is giving US commanders in Afghanistan a green light to go after terrorists in safe havens in Pakistan, Obama said, "Well, I haven't changed my approach. If we have a high-value target within our sights, after consulting with Pakistan, we're going after them."

In the hours since the release of the new policy it has become increasingly clear that along with the massive financial dole Washington to Pakistan to buy security for Americans, it has also toughened its language and will demand action from Islamabad.

While the US President unambiguously maintained he did not intend to send ground troops into Pakistan, at least not openly, he said, "But we have to hold them much more accountable."

Both radio and television commentariat and print pundits have been full of the most dire prognosis about Pakistan in recent days, as US attention has shifted sharply away from Iraq. US officials have spoken repeatedly about Pakistani intelligence agency ISI's support to terrorists networks with the underlying warning that Islamabad has to give up on this strategy. Denials from Pakistan have become feeble and proforma in the face of the US verbal onslaught.

Obama's remarks came amid the first signs of unhappiness in Pakistan over prospects of a tough new US policy sugar-coated with dole. A Pakistani presidential spokesman was quoted by the Dawn newspaper as saying that Islamabad would "convey its concerns through diplomatic channels over certain aspects of the new policy for the region."

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