Two missile strikes targetting suspected terrorists hideouts inside Pakistan in the first few days of his presidency indicates that new US President Barack Obama is going to be tough on Islamabad, when it comes to the war against terror, media reports said.
This is the first tangible sign of President Obama's commitment to sustained military pressure on the terrorists groups there, even though the Pakistanis broadly oppose such unilateral US actions, The Washington Post reported today.
Throughout his election campaign, Obama maintained that his administration would not hesitate from going ahead with unilateral strikes against high value targets inside Pakistan if it had actionable intelligence, even if this was opposed by Islamabad.
In a page one report, The Washington Post said though President Asif Ali Zardari has expressed hopes of a very warm relationship with the new Administration, Obama's national security team has already "telegraphed their intention to make firmer demands of Islamabad than the Bush administration".
This demand would be backed up with a threatened curtailment of the plentiful military aid that has been at the heart of US-Pakistani ties for the past three decades,it said.
"The separate strikes on two compounds, coming three hours apart and involving five missiles fired from Afghanistan-based Predator drones were the first high-profile hostile military actions taken under Obama's four-day-old presidency," the Post said.
In an interview to CNN, the former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf yesterday said that such air strikes have made US unpopular."Nobody in Pakistan is comfortable with the strikes across the border. There is no doubt in that. Public opinion is very much against it," Musharraf told the CNN.
When asked about such unilateral strikes, the White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, refused to comment on it.
"I'm not going to comment on those matters," Gibbs said yesterday.
During her confirmation hearing, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 13, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had said non-military aid to Pakistan would be made conditional upon progress on Islamabad's action towards terrorists.
In an op-ed piece in The Washington Times yesterday, Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Pakistan is the ground zero of terrorists' threat to the United States.
Even Obama addressing the State Department official Thursday (January 22) said Pakistan and Afghanistan are the central front against terrorism. The Obama Administration has appointed tough-taskmaster diplomat Richard Holbrooke as its Special Representatives for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
All this has apparently made Pakistan uneasy.
In an interview to the Geo TV, the Pak Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani hoped that the Obama Administration would show some patience while dealing with Pakistan.