US steps up effort to target 'safe-havens' inside Pakistan

US steps up effort to target 'safe-havens' inside Pakistan

The push comes as relations between Washington and Islamabad have soured over US impatience with the slow pace of Pakistani strikes against militants who routinely attack US-led troops in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama has said he will begin to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in July, increasing the urgency to show progress in the nine-year war against the Taliban.
The US asked Pakistan in recent weeks to allow additional Central Intelligence Agency officers and special operations military trainers to enter the country as part of Washington's efforts to intensify pressure on militants.

The requests have so far been rebuffed by Islamabad, which remains extremely wary of allowing a larger US ground presence in Pakistan, illustrating the precarious nature of relations between Washington and its wartime ally, the Wal Streer Journal said.
The number of CIA personnel in Pakistan has grown substantially in recent years. The exact number is highly classified.

The push for more forces reflects, in part, the increased need for intelligence to support the CIA drone program that has killed hundreds of militants with missile strikes. The additional officers could help Pakistani forces reach targets drones can't.
There are currently about 900 U.S. military personnel in Pakistan, 600 of which are providing flood relief and 150 of which are assigned to the training mission.
A senior Pakistani official said relations with the CIA remain strong but Islamabad continues to oppose a large increase in the number of American personnel on the ground.

The Obama administration has been ramping up pressure on Islamabad in recent weeks to attack militants after months of publicly praising Pakistani efforts.

The CIA has intensified drone strikes in Pakistan, and the military in Afghanistan has carried out cross-border helicopter raids, underlining US doubts Islamabad can be relied upon to be more aggressive.

Officials have even said they were going to stop asking for Pakistani help with the US's most difficult adversary in the region, the North Waziristan-based Haqqani network, because it was unproductive.

The various moves reflect a growing belief that the Pakistani safe havens are a bigger threat to Afghan stability than previously thought.