U.S. May Widen Covert War in Pakistan

President Obama and his national security advisers are considering expanding the covert U.S. war in Pakistan far beyond the tribal areas near the Afghan border to strike top Taliban leaders coordinating attacks in the region.

Senior administration officials say two high-level reports on Pakistan and Afghanistan that were forwarded to the White House in recent weeks have called for widening the target area to reach the Taliban and other insurgent groups to a major sanctuary in and around the city of Quetta, the New York Times reported on its Web site.

Missile strikes carried out by CIA-operated drones have until now been limited to the tribal areas, and never been extended into Baluchistan, a sprawling province under the authority of Pakistan's central government, and which is next to parts of Afghanistan where recent fighting has been fiercest, the newspaper reported.

Some American officials say the missile strikes in the tribal areas have forced some leaders of the Taliban and Al Qaeda to flee toward Quetta, making them more vulnerable, the Times said.

Pakistan has complained that the missile strikes violate its sovereignty.

Many of Obama's advisers are also urging him to sustain orders issued last summer by former President George W. Bush to continue Predator drone attacks against a wider range of targets in the tribal areas, and to conduct cross-border ground actions, using CIA and Special Operations commandos.

The Times said a spokesman for the National Security Council had declined to provide details, saying only "We're still working hard to finalize the review on Afghanistan and Pakistan that the president requested."

No other official would talk on the record on the issue, citing the administration's deliberations and the politically volatile nature of strikes into Pakistan's territory, the report said.

Reuters contributed to this report.