After a long time, the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan opened a new front on Thursday with the unmanned Predators striking a compound in the Orakzai tribal agency, reportedly killing at least a dozen people.
The compound was owned by Maulana Shakirullah, a commander of the Hafiz Gul Bahadar group of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Orakzai has not been pounded by drones since April 2009. It was the second drone strike in the tribal areas in two days — a compound in North Waziristan’s main town of Mir Ali bore the brunt of Wednesday’s attack.
Pakistan’s government registered a protest with the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad over the drone strikes, stating that these attacks were a clear violation of international law and Pakistan’s sovereignty. Such protests by the Pakistan government have been futile in the past.
Only last week, the spotlight was trained on the U.S. drone policy with American peace activists joining cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan on his abortive bid to march into South Waziristan with his anti-drone peace march.
The biggest counter argument against drone attacks is the collateral damage. Though the U.S. maintains that the targets are zeroed in on the basis of ground intelligence to minimise civilian casualties, the mainstream narrative here is very hostile to the Predators as they are seen to be violating sovereignty and killing innocent people, women and children included. In fact, this line of thinking maintains that the drones actually produces more terrorism as many of the innocent victims then want revenge as per the tribal code.