London: The Obama administration will deploy US troops in Pakistan in case the nation’s nuclear installations come under threat from terrorists, who have warned to avenge the killing of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, according to a newspaper.
The Saudi-born terrorist, who had evaded capture for a decade, was killed on May 2 in a top secret operation involving a small team of US Special Forces in Abbottabad, located 50 kilometres northeast of Islamabad and 150 kilometres east of Peshawar.
The plan to deploy American troops, which would be activated without Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s consent, provoked an angry reaction from Pakistan officials last night, the Sunday Express reported.
US President Barack Obama would order troops to parachute in to protect key nuclear missile sites- including the Pakistan Air Force’s central Sargodha HQ, home base for nuclear-capable F-16 combat aircraft and at least 80 ballistic missiles, the paper said.
“The plan is green lit and the President has already shown he is willing to deploy troops in Pakistan if he feels it is important for national security,” a US source was quoted as saying.
However, news of this plan has further increased tensions between the US and Pakistan, whose relations are already at an all-time low after the ‘Operation Geronimo’ by the US Navy Seal team that killed bin Laden at his Abbottabad hideout near to the Pakistan Military Academy.
“Pakistan has an elaborate command and control structure and is fully capable of defending its strategic assets under any circumstances, and does not need any assistance from any country, including the US, to safeguard its nuclear installations,” said an angry Pakistani official.
“The United States places its own national security issues above all other sovereignty issues, and trust in Pakistan’s abilities are extremely low,” said Alex Neill of the Royal United Services Institute.
The plan reflects growing concern over reprisals for the al Qaeda chief’s death, the paper said, noting that over 80 people were killed and 140 injured when two Taliban suicide bombers struck at a military academy in the north-western Pakistani town of Charsadda on Friday.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the two suicide bombings, saying it was to avenge bin Laden`s killing, and warned of bigger attacks in future.