The U.S. maintained its drone pressure on the tribal areas with two attacks on Tuesday, making this the sixth use of unmanned airpower here in less than a week. Eight terrorists are said to have been killed in this attack, which apparently targeted a senior Taliban leader in North Waziristan.
Since access to this area is restricted, independent reporting is negligible and whatever information that comes through about the drone attacks — carried out by the CIA — is primarily from unnamed sources within the Taliban or the security services.
A contentious issue between the U.S. and Pakistan with the latter describing drone attacks as illegal and a violation of its sovereignty, this step up in bombardments by the unmanned Predators/Reapers since last Thursday coincided with information trickling out of the General Headquarters that terrorists had replaced India as the biggest threat to Pakistan in the Army Doctrine. That details of the 2011-vintage doctrine were leaked out at this juncture was interpreted by analysts as indicative of the military deciding to take a harder line on terrorism.
And despite a visible increase in drone attacks in which pro-Pakistan Taliban leader Mullah Nazir was killed, there has been no suo motu condemnation of the series of bombardments by Predators/Reapers. Over the last two years, there have been occasions when direct protest over drone attacks was lodged with the U.S. Embassy or through statements issued to the media.
This year, no such action has been taken till date. Also, despite pressure from the right-wing lobby to take the matter to the International Court of Justice or the United Nations, Pakistan is keen to settle the issue bilaterally. As it is, there have been several indications that the drone attacks are conducted with the tacit support of the civil and military leadership of the country.