US resumes drone attacks in Pakistan risking ‘already strained ties’ over Davis’ fate

Islamabad, Feb 22: The US has reportedly started its drone attacks in Pakistan yet again, shrugging off rumours that the strikes have been suspended amid tension between the two nations over the fate of Raymond Davis.

Though it is speculated that Washington would not be able to carry out the drone strikes without Pakistan’s help in identifying targets, the attacks in recent years suggests that few of those killed in those strikes are considered high-value targets, Fox News reports.

A U.S. official, however, said that focusing solely on high-value targets underestimates the importance of keeping pressure on the Al Qaeda and Taliban networks in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

"There hasn't been a single non-combatant casualty since last summer. And it's ridiculous to think that you can't go after lower-ranking terrorists who, among other things, are targeting American forces in Afghanistan -- not to mention our homeland," the official said.

Pentagon might have defended its aerial assault on Muslim extremists in the region, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has confirmed that the U.S. is attempting to negotiate with the Taliban.

“Now, I know that reconciling with an adversary that can be as brutal as the Taliban sounds distasteful, even unimaginable. And diplomacy would be easy if we only had to talk to our friends. But that is not how one makes peace. President Reagan understood that when he sat down with the Soviets,” Clinton said.

The frequent drone attacks, which are considered key to the U.S. strategy for the region, have outraged the Pakistanis.

Last week, CIA Director Leon Panetta, whose agency runs the drone program, had told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the U.S.-Pakistan alliance is “one of the most complicated relationships that I've seen in a long time. There are issues that we have as to how they operate, ties the Pakistanis have to certain groups that concern us. I have to be part director of the CIA and diplomat to get the job done.”

The resumption of this week’s drone attacks in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan on the Afghan border have come after a month-long debate over the fate of the alleged CIA contractor Davis, who had earlier confessed to shooting dead Mohammed Fahim and Faizan Haider in Lahore on January 25, allegedly in self-defence.

While Pakistani authorities have charged Davis with murder, the Obama administration has been insisting that he is an "administrative and technical official" attached to its Lahore consulate and has diplomatic immunity.
Copyright Asian News International/