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USA’s unilateral strikes in Pakistan

USA’s unilateral strikes in Pakistan

TestFunda ,  08-Dec-08

The Stakeholders:

Pakistan, USA, the Taliban, India, USA-Pakistan alliance, the War on Terror


·         Pakistan has been an ally of the USA’s War on Terror since 2001.

·         In an effort to combat the Taliban’s forces in Afghanistan (thought to also be a safe haven for al Qaeda’s militia), Pakistan granted the USA permission to set up base within the borders of Pakistan.

·         Under President Musharraf, Pakistan appeared extremely eager to help American troops along the long border shared between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

·         In mid-2007, US officials said that they would consider acting unilaterally within the borders of Pakistan to weed out al-Qaeda’s forces, if required.

·         According to certain sources, American troops had been given permission back in 2004 to penetrate from Afghanistan into Pakistan, if needed.

·         They reasoned that they might have to take such an action since Pakistani forces were doing an inadequate job of policing the north-west regions along the border with Afghanistan.

Key points:

·         Since January 2008, US forces have launched several air-strikes on locations within Pakistan, much to the anger of both the locals and the government of Pakistan.

·         These strikes have been conducted, according to anonymous sources within the US ranks, by unmanned aerial vehicles.

·         The locations bombed have been thought to be the hide-outs or meeting grounds of high-level al Qaeda and Taliban leaders.

·         These air-strikes are thought to be led by the CIA, though there hasn’t been official confirmation on this matter from authorities.

·         Although Pakistan has voiced its displeasure about the nature of the strikes, it has been very quiet in its protests, leading some analysts to believe that there may be a secret deal between Pakistan and the USA.


·         Pakistan has recently had elections after almost a decade and it is not equipped to handle the cross-border insurgency being carried out on its border with Afghanistan.

·         The north-west regions of Pakistan have been known, for many years, to be outside the complete control of the central government of Pakistan.

·         The military’s influence in this region has also been weak, with a lot of local sympathy (or support, occasionally) for extremist groups operating in the region.

·         There is significant intelligence to confirm that many suspected terrorists reside in the region of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The inadequacy of Pakistani forces to combat the militants in the regions lends support for superior American troops to take action where needed.

·         The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is also very porous and US troops in Afghanistan often find themselves chasing militants into Pakistan. They shouldn’t be expected to drop the chase since this would give the terrorists time to disappear.

·         Intelligence provided is often valid for very little time because the targets may relocate within short spans of time. Approaching the government of Pakistan for permission to take out a suspected target might give enough time for the targets to relocate.

·         Pakistan has allowed the USA to build a base of operations within its territory to assist in the war in Afghanistan. This in itself qualifies as consent for the US forces to take action where they deem the urgency of action paramount. The resources at this base can be well utilised to attack suspected militants near the dangerous border region.

·         The USA has been a strategic partner of Pakistan for many decades and has shielded them from the anger of other nations around them. They have also provided financial support of several billions of dollars over these years. This shows that the actions of the USA are concerned with the welfare of the Pakistani people.


·         While the USA has been provided bases for operations, it has not been explicitly given permission to carry out first-strikes on any region within Pakistani territory.

·         The acts of unilateral strikes by US forces infringe on the rights of the people and the government of Pakistan, a sovereign democracy.

·         There has been little or no evidence to support the claims that high-level officials of the Taliban or al Qaeda were killed in the attacks, depriving the USA of any legitimacy for their actions.

·         The unilateral actions have killed many innocents, including women and children, leading to an increase in Anti-American sentiments.

·         These acts may be interpreted by locals as acts of arrogance of the American people: they believe that they can bypass the formal procedures required for such action simply because they provide aid to Pakistan.

·         Many of the attacks are carried out from bases in Afghanistan and don’t originate from the American bases in Pakistan. This clearly shows that Pakistani soil is being entered without appropriate authorisation.

More links:

Pakistan fury at deadly US strike

Suspected U.S. missile strike in Pakistan kills 6

GD Topics:

1.       Should India take unilateral action in tackling cross-border terrorism across the LoC?


·         The USA has shown the necessity of crossing borders to root out terror by moving into Pakistani soil from Afghanistan. India should seek international support in order to pursue militants seeking refuge in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

·         The USA has maintained that the strikes have been carried out against a common enemy, the terrorists. Since Pakistan insists that terrorism is a common enemy to both states, by the same logic, India should seek to attack terrorist camps and hide-outs even if they are located within Pakistan-occupied regions along the LoC.

·         Approaching the government of Pakistan to seek permission to attack sites will be an even longer procedure for India given the strained relationships between the two countries.


·         India and Pakistan do not share the long history of co-operation that Pakistan has with the USA. India will, therefore, not receive the quiet sanction received by the US forces to carry out unilateral strikes within Pakistani territory.

·         The LoC is considered to be the de facto border between the two nations and, given that there is no joint mechanism between India and Pakistan to combat terror, any movement of Indian troops into Pakistan-occupied regions will constitute an act of war. This will have dire consequences in a still-polarised world.

·         Any civilian casualties that may occur during the course of such an operation will inadvertently get exaggerated and could even result in the War Crimes Tribunal being approached to deal with the matter. This will prove extremely counter-productive.

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