— File photo
— File photo

WASHINGTON: The United States has cut back sharply on drone strikes in Pakistan after the government asked for restraint while it seeks peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

The Post quoted a US official as saying, “That's what they asked for, and we didn't tell them no.” The newspaper said there had been a lull in such attacks since December, the longest break since 2011.

The newspaper said the Obama administration indicated it would continue carrying out strikes on senior Al Qaeda officials if they were to become available or to thwart any immediate threat to Americans.

Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the report.

The Post quoted a senior Obama administration official as denying an informal agreement had been reached, saying, “The issue of whether to negotiate with the Pakistani Taliban is entirely an internal matter for Pakistan.”

While some Pakistanis welcome the strikes, saying they kill fewer civilians and are more effective against Taliban militants than traditional military operations, others argue the strikes still cause civilian casualties, terrify residents and violate Pakistani sovereignty.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said he wants the drone strikes to end.

The Post said the current US pause came after a November strike that killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.

That attack took place a day after the premier's National Security and Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz was quoted as saying the United States had promised not to conduct drone strikes while the government tries to engage the Taliban in peace talks.

An annual study by a British-based organisation found that CIA drone strikes against militants in Pakistan killed no more than four civilians last year, the lowest number of reported civilian deaths since the drone program began in 2004.


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Comments (6) Closed


ghaznavi
Feb 05, 2014 02:16pm

there exist a possibility that US wanted Pak to seek dialogue solution. As in Afghanistan major operations are launched from Pak. So by this process US wanted an escape route from Afghanistan. Reason of speculation is just one as Pak govt kept on asking them to stop but they never did. So what has happened now?

Mustafa
Feb 05, 2014 07:17pm

@ghaznavi: 'So what has happened now?' Pakistan has repeatedly 'requested' US to stop violating its sovereignty but to no avail. This time perhaps the blockage of NATO goods at torkham, the cheapest way to import goods to NATO in Afghanistan, has forced them to reduce the drones strikes. After all its all about money.

Eddies
Feb 05, 2014 08:17pm

Excuse me...there is an error in this story...the fact is that the drone attack on Meshud occurred the Day BEFORE the first talks were announced...NOT THE DAY AFTER...The US had captured no. 2 TTP leader in Afganistan a few days before and he gave them target info on Meshud...a few days later they droned him...the interior minister never told USA that talks were being started..so he convieniently blamed US for his failure to communicate with Pakistan ally about talks...this is trust deficit that exists on both sides...

ahmedj
Feb 05, 2014 09:08pm

If we are defending our skies on requests then why are we spending on our Air Force? Its better to improve our health and education than wasting on impotent flying machine.

ailly
Feb 05, 2014 09:57pm

another season, another lie, another pat on back.... no results. carry on.

Ahmer
Feb 05, 2014 11:23pm

@ghaznavi:

Perhaps, up till now Pakistan was going only through the motion of asking that drones strikes be ended and never wanted them to actually stop.