Notwithstanding Pakistan’s démarches, including the one on Thursday, made to the US against the use of drones, the pilot-less planes continue to attack Pakistan’s tribal region, without respite, even during the celebratory festival of Eidul Fitr. The sharp escalation in the last few days, observed with the Foreign Office’s continuously futile protests, make for a hopeless situation. The three strikes on Friday alone caused the deaths of 18 and injuries to 14 others. Some may have been militants or their sympathisers, but the majority terrorised were ordinary citizens, given the situation in which the militants find their sanctuaries. That the CIA should, on the one hand, be opting for this counterproductive “weapon of choice”, while the Obama administration, on the other, is engaged in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table, reflects a confused and flawed approach to finding a solution to the Afghan imbroglio. One hopes that strategists in Washington realise that it would do the US image a lot of good if they were to pay heed to the hue and cry, which is fast taking on a global dimension, about the unsuitability of drones. In the meantime, in his weekly briefing to the press, the Foreign Office spokesman maintained that Pakistan was in contact with US officials at the various levels to bring home to them the “unproductive (and) illegal” nature of drone attacks. The Pak-US strategic dialogue is also due to take place this year. And there were other options available to settle the issue of drones rather than approaching the International Court of Justice. Spokesman Muazzam Khan denied that there was any tacit understanding on drone strikes between the US and Pakistan. While referring to the mutual recriminations on cross border incursions from Afghanistan into Pakistan and vice versa, he said that both the sides were engaged in talks to settle the matter, adding that Pakistan was not involved in any attack inside Afghanistan. Yesterday’s papers carried two reports, one about the death by drone of fugitive-militant Mullah Dadullah, Bajaur Agency leaders of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who had escaped to the Kunar province of Afghanistan and from there was launching raids into Pakistan; the other report details the account of cross border raid into Bajuar killing two and injuring five.
According to a private TV channel, Pakistan has decided against launching any full-scale military operation in the North Waziristan Agency. If correctly reported, the decision would go a long way towards forestalling the flare-up of violent attacks in Pakistan’s territory by militants expecting to be targeted in the operation. Pakistanis have had enough of violence already and badly need an end to this harrowing scenario.