President George W. Bush secretly approved US military raids inside anti-terror ally Pakistan, according to current and former US officials. The high-risk gambit was aimed at the death or capture of al-Qaida and Taliban extremists over the sensitivities of a shaky US-backed civilian government that does not want to seem like Washington's lapdog.
Bush acted in July to give US forces greater leeway to cross from outposts in Afghanistan into the rugged area along the Pakistan border. Pakistan's central government has little control in this area, where extremists have found what US officials say is a comfortable haven.
Already frustrated with what the United States perceived as a balky and incomplete commitment to hunting militants seven years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Bush approved the attacks when it appeared Pakistani authorities were passing tips to militants, officials said Thursday.
One official familiar with US South Asia policy said the new rules were adopted in response to increasing problems with US-Pakistani counterterror cooperation - particularly evidence that Pakistan's intelligence service, known as the ISI, had been compromised by militants and that some ISI elements were helping extremists. The official said extremists got Pakistani help before an attack July 7 on the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.