Americans start asking about Predators in Pakistan

March 27, 2008

A story in the Washington Post “U.S. Steps Up Unilateral Strikes in Pakistan has attracted attention worldwide. It says the United States has escalated its unilateral strikes against al-Qaeda members and fighters operating in Pakistan’s tribal areas, partly because of anxieties that Pakistan’s new leaders will insist on scaling back military operations there. 

File photo of Predator drone“Over the past two months, U.S.-controlled Predator aircraft are known to have struck at least three sites used by al-Qaeda operatives,” it says. “The moves followed a tacit understanding with (President Pervez) Musharraf and Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani that allows U.S. strikes on foreign fighters operating in Pakistan, but not against the Pakistani Taliban.”

Stories of missile attacks by unmanned CIA-operated Predator drones in Pakistan are not new, and nor indeed is Pakistani anger at what it sees as a violation of its sovereignty. In early February I highlighted a story by the Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai in The News saying that the American policy of hitting targets inside Pakistan had now become “the norm than the exception”. Neither U.S. nor Pakistani authorities officially confirm U.S. missile attacks on Pakistani territory.

What is new is the amount of attention the missile attacks are now gaining, particularly in the United States.  It’s worth reading the comments on the Washington Post article — 161 of them when I last looked — to see how many people are learning about them for the first time.

Senator Barack Obama/Ellen OzierSome comments give credit to Senator Barack Obama for suggesting targeted attacks on Al Qaeda militants in Pakistan — an idea he repeated this month, as I noted in a previous entry on this subject. As far as I know, the Predator attacks — including one in Bajaur Agency in January 2006 that was reported to have killed up to 18 people, including women and children — started before Obama suggested the idea. But he does seem to have got people talking about them.

So here is the question. If the American public is now waking up to the notion that the United States is launching missile attacks in Pakistan, will that affect U.S. policy? Will it become a U.S. election issue? And what does it mean for Pakistan and its new government?


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Posted by Jack Parson | Report as abusive

Wow. You miss the focal issue: Predator drones may (or may not)provide strategic capacity to eliminate a few extremists in the FATA. There have been but half a dozen over the past several years. But they do provide sufficient reason for retaliation–which is endured by the Pakistani people. As you report, please dig deeper and analyze more.

Posted by Mim | Report as abusive

iraq iran afghanistan pakistan syria, why has the US been waging war, bombing these countries for the last 20 years.?
What actually is the official policy?

Posted by willi | Report as abusive

the intelligence to carry out these attacks had better be good..otherwise there will hell to pay…

Posted by asad | Report as abusive

Iraq: Bombing, UN sanctioned, no flight zone. 2003 Wrong war started under false pretense.
Iran: No bombing, poor relation.
Afghanistan: War against Taliban for refusing to hand over BL and cohorts. UN sanctioned.
Pakistan: Taliban & al-qaeda targets, not a war, limited objectives
Syrian: No bombing, poor relation

Official policy? If one knew it would be easy to counter. Trouble is, I doubt the ones responsible even know. I believe the next US gvt will be in trouble picking up the mess left by this one.

I will vote for Obama because he is not Clinton and not a republican. What he says sounds right but I do not trust any politician to deliver anything anytime soon.

Predators strikes in Pakistan making the news? Sorry folks, this is not new, every strike has been reported since the beginning of the war. You just have to follow more closely what is going on.

Posted by Jacques Vigneron | Report as abusive

As someone with a growing awareness and interest in Pakistan’s key political role in world security I am delighted to have found this informative blog. On the subject of these US predator strikes I am frankly appalled, but not surprised, given that aggressive, disrespectful military actions are pretty well the norm for this administration. Let’s hope the US media coverage does provoke a clear US policy rather that these stupid actions provoking legitimate retaliation.

Posted by Ally | Report as abusive

I fear these actions will not gather respect from the people we hope to help us with the problem.

Such attacks can easily loose any respect or a far away country cosy in its superiority.

We need to realise wars are lost by stretching logistics and opening battle on more than one front.

Posted by Raymond | Report as abusive

I hate journalists who only report half or not even a third of the story. The Journalist forgot to mention that the preds “bomb” the terrorist camps, not “Pakistan” as a whole. They also forgot to include (because I know most people are lazy and really don’t do the research themselves to know this… the extremists use Pakistan as their “safe” ground and travel across the border to Afghanistan to launch their attacks on their own CIVILIAN people. They do this because they know that the Americans aren’t allowed into Pakistan without PAKISTAN’S PERMISSION. Poor journalism…zero stars

Posted by -D | Report as abusive

Soory once more.

If democrate are elected we will never get local inteligance to carry out such attacks as the locals will not risk their lives when they see we have no stomach to fight these muslm fascists.

Posted by Fred Pisacane | Report as abusive

Thanks for the forum.However,the reporting was very weak. There is a good story here for an agressive reporter.

Posted by Fred Pisacane | Report as abusive

The key question is whether the “Predators” are targeting Taliban or al Khaida, or simply innocent civilians living in Pakistan’s tribal areas not whether Pakistan’s so-called sovereignty is being violated. If Pakistan had any sovereignty in the tribal areas, there would be no need for the US to send its “Predators” over it. If the US is, indeed, targeting Taliban and or al Khaida in the tribal areas of Pakistan, they have a perfect right to do so and Pakistan has no right to object, since the Taliban and al Khaida are engaged in a war against the US and Afghanistan. Enemy forces have no right to sanctuary in neighboring states; in fact it is an act of war by Pakistan against the US and Afghanistan to provide any assistant to such enemy forces. Indeed, the US and its allies have every right to any force it needs to deny its enemies this kind of santuary. The fact that they do not do so is a concession to Pakistani public opinion, not an admission that it would be wrong to do so. On the other hand, if the US Predators are simply flying around Pakistan randomly shooting Predator missiles worth several hundred thousand dollars each at whoever they come across, that would be a violation of the rules of war and a crime by any standard. In fact, it would approximate the tactics of the Taliban and al Khaida, who routinely set off explosions that kill anybody in the vicinty whether combatant or bystander. In fact, it would be ludicrous to even suggest such a thing. The Pakistanis should either purge their country of these evil and ruthless men, or let the US do it for them.

Posted by Jonathan | Report as abusive

The strikes kill the terrorists along with the innocent women and children. The killing of innocents will breed more terrorists. Terrorism cannot be won by any military means. If we do not see this, then we will be in an endless cycle. The problem of terrorism is embedded in several factors ranging from economics to justice. Do we ever wonder as to why the people in FATA support these terrorists? How did these terrorists get to that area? It was not long ago when CIA trained these terrorists and financed their activities to fight the soviets. It was the CIA and Pak army that laid the foundation of religious schools to breed fanatical fighters for their war. It was a frankenstein of our own creation. Now, simply bombing them to oblivion along with innocent people is not going to be the fix. We really have to question our policies and not believe people like Obama who do not know what they are talking about. Or believe the defence lobby who want nothing better but for us to be involved in endless conflicts for their profiteering. Come on guys…wake up and really question things…nothing is simple as white and black in real life.

Posted by Arsalan Khalid | Report as abusive

These strikes only killed innocents womens and children, first they were American beloved when they were fighting against Russia but now they are terrorist, who bring them here from different countries who give them guns ammunition technologies and now they are terrorist.
Its simple Pakistan Army are dealing with them and why not US leave the matter to them, but because they need this land at any cost its a gate way to central Asia to control Iran, China, and to use India according to their own will.
This is the whole story why they are spending Millions and Billions of $ for the sake of Afghan people that they are under Taliban control or for the sake of Pakistanis that they are under terrorist attacks?
If they kill 1 innocent 20 suicider are come out and they are almost in the age of 15 to 20 because when they saw burn dead bodies of their innocent beloved family members how they resist against them when they have nothing to eat and wear and shelter how they resist?
And this land will a quagmire for Americans.

Posted by Alam Khan | Report as abusive

If they attack on Pakistan their logistic support will be stoped and they cannot even fight a single day in Afghanistan.
Everything is based on leadership we need leaders like late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who can stand in front of America and say and leaders of todays this Mr. 10% and puppet play boy they haven’t had balls to stand in front of America and say any thing they are only shouting in public rallies and maulana Diesel these are the black sheep’s of Pakistan things are getting worse day by day and they are placing and replacing Judges and involve in dirty politics and leg pulling of each others like Nawaz Sahrif and Mr 10 % now on cabinet Ministers and who to be the CM of Punjab
And on the other side NWFP is burning Bajaur Swat Waziristan almost all pustoons and the Specific leaders of pushtoon Asfandiyar Wali till date has not even say a single word in favor of Pushtoons and innocent pukhtoons are killing every day and he has his eye on the federal Ministries that how can he grab more and more.
And at the end i must say the King of Terrorist is sited in the lap of UK Mr. Murderer killer of the innocent Pukhtoons and Sindhis Altaf Hussain why he is not coming to his country why UK give asylum to the most wanted terrorist of Pakistan WHY??

Posted by Khan | Report as abusive

Americans have started playing with fire which can burn Israil and parts of India.They think Republicans will win by such tactics. Bush party may win by the dirty double game with Pakistan with the help of Israil and Indian Agencies but America will lose ultimately

Posted by MA Ch | Report as abusive

to the people of pakistan.tribals seen them very closely they have certain facts.
1.they can sell even there motherland if provided with good amount of money.
2. We say they cannot be sudued ,history has proved any conquerer who entered subcontinent came from afghanistan
3. for muslims (its not a propoganda),they dont have circucission
4. They sell their daughters in marriage,any malik local sardar will get more money than ordinary man
5. A pathan is clever he will never fight if hes alone but in pakistan we have posed them as nuts which they are not
6. One last question for u all to ponder,during soviet invasion USA provided with the money and equipment.Who is providing them the material support to fight nuclear state of pakistan and Nato is it india joined with russia to revenge their very threat to existance or some1 else

Posted by Ali | Report as abusive