The U.S. stepped up drone attacks in the tribal areas of Pakistan adjoining Afghanistan this week with both North and South Waziristan coming under attack over the past two days, reportedly killing at least 20 terrorists.
After targeting the Miranshah area of North Waziristan on Tuesday, the CIA-operated unmanned Predators struck at two compounds in South Waziristan in the early of hours of Wednesday, killing at least a dozen terrorists.
Both tribal agencies are said to be strongholds of the Taliban — both Afghan and Pakistani. Owing to the porous Pakistan-Afghanistan border and the “easement rights” which allow people to move easily across the border, the U.S believes terrorists strike in Afghanistan and escape to these areas.
Returning to pound the tribal areas after a gap of 11 days, this week's drone attacks came just ahead of the Afghanloyajirgathat began in Kabul on Wednesday morning to explore possibilities of a negotiated settlement with the Afghan Taliban following the assassination of the former chairman of High Peace Council, Burhanuddin Rabbani.
Though the drone attacks have been a highly contentious issue in Pakistan — with Islamabad describing them as the “key irritant” in its relations with the U.S. — there has been a considerable scaling down in the Pakistani rhetoric on these Predator visits, which are billed as a breach of sovereignty.
In a related development, Pakistani troops reportedly killed at least 20 terrorists in the Kurram tribal agency adjoining North Waziristan in a stand-off following an attack on a security post in the dead of night. The attack on the security post was said to be in retaliation to military operations in various parts of the tribal belt, a reason cited by the Pakistan Army for not launching operations against the Haqqani network — accused by the U.S. of many attacks on its troops in Afghanistan — in North Waziristan.