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Tuesday, Nov 25 , 2014 ( Safar, 1436)

Updated:10:00 PM GMT

Frustrated US Accelerates Drone Attacks

Drone-attacks
The US launched 20 drone attacks in North Waziristan in the past month, a record number in the past ten years. (Google)
Pakistan, drone attacks

ISLAMABAD – Frustrated by Pakistan’s refusal to open a new front against militants in North Waziristan, the United States has stepped up drone attacks in the restive region, with a tacit support from Islamabad, analysts believe.

“The US is looking for a lucky dip (to hit a high-value target) by accelerating drone attacks on north Waziristan because it believes that the so-called Haqqani network is operating from there,” Kamal Hyder, an Islamabad-based security analyst, told OnIslam.net.

“And this is certainly the result of  perpetual refusal from Pakistan to launch a military operation in North Waziristan line with South Waziristan.”

The US military have launched 20 drone attacks in North Waziristan in the past month, a record number in the past ten years, killing at least 200 people, mostly civilians.

On Saturday, at least four people were killed in a US drone attack in Datta Khel village area near Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan.

“The US has accelerated its drone attacks because it has felt that Pakistani army will not be in a position to open a new front against Haqqani network for a long period,” Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Peshawar-based expert on Afghan affairs, said.

“That is why, they (US forces) have unprecedentedly increased their attacks to weaken the dangerous network.”

The Pakistani Army is heavily engaged in ongoing relief operation after the country’s deadly floods last month, which killed more than 1,700 people.

The Army is also engaged in a major offensive in South Waziristan to uproot Hakimullah Mehsud-led Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in South Waziristan and Swat Valley.

“These all areas are still restive,” said Yusufzai.

“There is no normalcy there as the forces are facing strong resistance by militants. Therefore, the Americans too feel that army cannot launch operation in North Waziristan.”

The Haqqani network is a powerful militant group notorious for deadly attacks against the US-led foreign troops in Afghanistan.

The Haqqanis were blamed for a deadly attack on a CIA center in Bagram, which killed 16 CIA agents last year.

The group is led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, a son of former Afghan guerrilla commander, Mualvi Jalaluddin Haqqani.

Jalaluddin Haqqani, who had fought against the Soviet forces in 1980s from the platform of Hizb-e-Islami (Yunus Khalis group), later joined the Taliban regime as its minister for border affairs in 1996.

“No doubt, Haqqani network has significance importance for US forces,” said Yusufzai.

“Though it (Haqqani Network) is not causing damage to foreign forces in line with Afghan Taliban, however, it’s organized structure and capability to strike at high value targets has forced the US to accelerate drone attacks on North Waziristan.”

Tacit Support

Security experts believe that the increasing US drone attacks are being carried out with a tacit support from Islamabad.

“There is a general perception, which I believe this is somehow true, that the US has accelerated drone attacks with a tacit support of Pakistan government, with the hope to hit a high-value target,” said Hyder, the Islamabad-based security expert.

“Without Pakistan’s approval, the US cannot infiltrate into our soil with impunity.”

Yusufzai shares a similar opinion.

“Earlier, there had been an apparent protest by the government over drone attacks, but nowadays they are going unnoticed,” he said.

“Even the local media doesn’t give any importance to drone attacks.”

Last year, the head of the Senate’s intelligence committee said that Pakistan’s protest at US drone attacks were only meant to pacify its people, otherwise the attacks were being carried out with its approval.

Experts believe that the increased drone attacks are also aimed to ease the public unease at the nine-year Afghan conflict.

“There is no doubt that drone attacks have been effective to an extent, though they have not hit any high value target so far,” said Yusufzai.

“But US administration feels that it has to show something extra to its people especially after increase in troops in Afghanistan,” he said, referring to a surge of 30,000 troops in the war-torn  country.

“Al-Qaeda leaders are cleverer than Taliban, that is why they are not being hit. Even those Taliban who have been killed in these attacks were not the top leaders. They were either the third or fourth-tear leaders, or their supporters. But America considers all of them its enemy.

“That is why it sticks to this tactic (drone attacks) because it has to justify the huge expenses in Afghanistan before the Senate and the Congress,” he said.

“Taliban, unlike Al-Qaeda, are not traditional enemies of the US, but the continuous drone attacks and killings of civilians are forcing them to strengthen their bonds with Al Qaeda, instead of parting ways with the network, which is the prime target of US forces before leaving Afghanistan.”

Aamir Latif is a Pakistani journalist based in Karachi. He is OnIslam.net's correspondent there. Aamir joined Pakistan's wire service Pakistan Press International(PPI) in February 1997 and worked as its Karachi Bureau Chief till January 2000. For the last five years, he has worked as correspondent for the US News, World Report, and the Washington Times. In 2000, Aamir obtained a Freedom Forum Scholarship, covered various foreign visits of the Pakistani President and the Prime Minister, attended various conferences, while representing Pakistan in and abroad.

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