US has limited option on terror attacks from Pak soil
The United States has very limited option with regard to Islamabad, even as it fears that the next bog terrorist attack on its soil will be "postmarked" Pakistan, a former CIA official said.
Washington: The United States has very
limited option with regard to Islamabad, even as it fears that
the next bog terrorist attack on its soil will be "postmarked"
Pakistan, a former CIA official said.
In an interview to the online publication of Council
on Foreign Relations, a Washington-based think tank, former
CIA official Bruce Riedel said there is "a very serious
possibility that the next mass casualty terrorist attack on
the United States will be postmarked Pakistan."
Currently Senior Fellow at Brookings Institute, Bruce
Riedel chaired a special interagency committee last year to
develop President Barack Obama`s policy for Pakistan and
In the case of a major terrorist attack on the US
having its foot print in Pakistan, Riedel said, "a stiff
diplomatic demarche is not going to satisfy anyone," but US
options to act against Pakistan are "severely limited."
The best option is "to get Pakistan to do more now"
in its fight against extremism by providing more weapons and
technological aid, he said.
"The Secretary (of State) is right, that there is a
very serious possibility that the next mass casualty terrorist
attack on the United States will be postmarked `Pakistan`. We
narrowly averted that in Times Square just a week ago," Riedel
Noting that this administration and its predecessor
have been pressuring Pakistan for years to shut down
completely the jihadist Frankenstein that was created over
three decades in Pakistan, he said, no Pakistani government
has yet been willing to take on the entire network of
"Secretary Clinton has raised questions about some in
the Pakistani government still retaining links to these
groups," he said.
Observing that Pakistan is a country twice the size of
California with the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the
world, he said America`s options to do anything against
Pakistan are severely limited.
"Military options are unattractive; this is a country
with nuclear weapons and which is determined to defend itself.
Economic sanctions are very limited as well, and one needs to
bear in mind that more than three-quarters of the supplies
that go to American and NATO forces in Afghanistan come via
the port of Karachi in Pakistan," he said.
"So Pakistan has a lot of leverage on the United
States. Clinton is trying to signal to the Pakistanis, let`s
not put ourselves into this shoe, take action now so we don`t
face this conundrum of problems later on," Riedel said.
Responding to a question on US options in the event of
a major terrorist attack on the United States from extremist
organizations based in Pakistan, Riedel said the first option
will be to press the Pakistanis to move into those parts of
the country like North Waziristan, where these terrorists are
still operating very freely and very openly.
"If the Pakistanis won`t do that, then there will be
serious consideration about whether the United States needs to
take unilateral action," he said adding that that`s very
difficult to do.
"That would be infringing on Pakistani sovereignty;
that would risk a conflict with Pakistan with all the
difficulties I already described. And it would be a further
strain on our already limited resources in Afghanistan and the
region if we had to expand the area where our own boots were
on the ground. There are no attractive options for dealing
with this. The best option is to get Pakistan to do more now,"
Riedel said Pakistani cooperation is essential to
defeat terrorism in the region.
"The drones are very effective technology; they have
killed or wounded some senior terrorists. But they`re just a
tactic, they`re not a strategy. You`re not going to close down
Pakistan`s jihadist Frankenstein simply from 30,000 feet in
the air," he said.
"They can be a very good way to disrupt and sometimes
dismantle terrorist activities, but they`re never going to
defeat it by themselves. That requires Pakistani cooperation.
That`s always been at the heart of why this is such a
"We can`t eliminate the terrorist problem in Pakistan
without Pakistan`s help. And yet, we`ve tried for decades now
to get the Pakistanis to give us that help, and we`ve not yet
found the cure to make that happen," Riedel said.