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Obama plans to expand strikes against terror to Pak

world Updated: Mar 27, 2009 14:19 IST
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US President Barack Obama intends to expand the strikes against terror across the border of Afghanistan to Pakistan, which many of his team members believe has emerged as the ground zero of terrorism.

The new policy, to be unveiled by Obama at the White House this evening, would endorse more drone attacks inside Pakistan much beyond their traditional strike zones of the tribal regions of Pakistan, media reports said.

The new strategy, now being called Af-Pak policy, would focus equally on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the reports said on the eve of the release of the much awaited report.

Confronting a faltering war, Obama plans to dispatch thousands more military and civilian trainers to Afghanistan by fall in addition to 17,000 already announced this month.

It will “provide capability for the Afghan government and military until they’re able to do it themselves,” an unidentified official was quoted as saying by Politico.

Obama is likely to endorse an amendment by Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar that calls for additional foreign aid money -- $1.5 billion a year -- for Pakistan, with strings attached with the goal of reducing terrorism.

The Washington Post reported that the Administration in association with the Congress will develop new “benchmarks and metrics to measure our performance and that of our allies,” including the Afghan and Pakistani governments.

Administration officials said a key goal is to convince people in Pakistan that the war is not only a US fight, but also their own battle. They said that sense has been lost and that many in the United States consider the fight to be “Bush’s war”, reported The Washington Times.

The goal, according to senior officials, the newspaper said, will be “to disrupt, dismantle and eventually destroy Al-Qaeda’s safe havens and sanctuaries in Pakistan its infrastructure, its support network and to deprive it from being able to develop such sanctuaries in Afghanistan.”

Media reports said the plan also includes expanding regional diplomatic outreach to Russia, China, India and the Persian Gulf States.

Earlier in the day, Obama briefed Congressional leaders about his new plan.