Obama airstrikes kill 22 in Pakistan

PAKISTAN received an early warning of what the era of “smart power” under President Barack Obama will look like after two remote-controlled US airstrikes killed 22 people at suspected terrorist hideouts in the border area of Waziristan.

There will be no let-up in the military pressure on terrorist groups, US officials warned, as Obama prepares to launch a surge of 30,000 troops in neighbouring Afghanistan. It is part of a “tough love” policy combining a military crack-down with diplomatic initiatives.

The Pakistani government, which received a visit from General David Petraeus, the chief of US Central Command, on the day of Obama’s inauguration, has been warned that it must step up its efforts against militants if it is to continue to receive substantial military aid from America.

The airstrikes were authorised under a covert programme approved by Obama, according to a senior US official. It was a dramatic signal in the president’s first week of office that there will be no respite in the hunt for Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders.

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