The U.S. maintained the drone pressure on the tribal areas of Pakistan through the weekend with two more unmanned Predators bombarding various targets on Sunday, killing eight suspected terrorists. Together with Saturday’s attack, the toll went up to 14.
All three drone visitations were in North Waziristan, where the U.S. wants Pakistan to mount military operations against terrorist safe havens — particularly the Haqqani network which is held responsible for some of the most brazen attacks on coalition forces in Kabul.
All three attacks were in the Shawal Valley area which is under the command of Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar, who recently issued a diktat against polio immunization, putting thousands of children at risk in those very areas which report the maximum number of cases in Pakistan.
Pakistan had protested Saturday’s attack but there was no official word on the drone visits of Sunday. Islamabad has always held that drone attacks are counter-productive because innocent lives are lost, turning some of their relatives into terrorists just to seek revenge. The drone strategy of the U.S. has been a key irritant in bilateral relations over the past couple of years but Washington has shown so signs of relenting on this front yet.
Meanwhile, speculation continues on whether a military operation will be launched in North Waziristan. Though Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s Independence Day speech had sought to take ownership of the war on terror and was seen as an indication of the military’s willingness to mount a campaign in North Waziristan, the general assumption is that such an operation would essentially target the Mir Ali area where terrorists targeting Pakistan are located.
Miranshah, the hub of the Haqqani network, might still not be the target.