Pakistan: US Drone
Attack Strikes Sarai Darpakhel Area of North Waziristan
July 03, 2013
At least 17 suspected militants were reported killed by a predawn U.S.
drone attack in Pakistan’s volatile northwestern tribal region, on the
border with Afghanistan. The missile strike was swiftly condemned by the
Pakistani intelligence officials say the attack by a remotely piloted
U.S. aircraft struck a suspected militant hideout in the Sarai Darpakhel
area of North Waziristan.
The volatile border district is a known hub of the Haqqani network of
Afghan insurgents and al-Qaida operatives. They allegedly use the
sanctuaries to fuel the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, and most U.S.
drone strikes in recent years have occurred in the Waziristan region.
Pakistani officials say the strikes violate the country’s sovereignty
and that civilian deaths in such “illegal” actions are strengthening
ranks of the militants.
The latest attack prompted a swift protest from the foreign ministry,
which reiterated Islamabad’s traditional opposition. This is said to be
the 14th drone attack this year and the second since the newly elected
government headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took charge following
Sharif has called for an immediate end to U.S. drone operations on
Pakistani territory, and he reiterated that demand while speaking to
reporters Saturday in Islamabad.
“This is something, which of course, is creating a lot of ill will in
Pakistan. We have also brought this to the notice of the Americans,"
said Sharif. "We have protested very strongly against the drone attacks,
and we have taken this matter up with them because this is something
which is also counter-productive.”
U.S. officials consider drones an important tool in counter-terrorism
operations. They describe the Haqqani network as one of the most
dangerous militant factions fighting American-led international forces
Afghan government and its military commanders allege the group is
closely tied to the Pakistani spy agency, the ISI, a charge Islamabad
American and Afghan officials long have demanded Pakistan take military
action against the insurgents in North Waziristan. Pakistani military
leaders insist their forces are stretched too thin fighting a deadly
insurgency unleashed by domestic Taliban extremists in adjoining tribal
areas and elsewhere in the country.
Some critics believe the Pakistani army is reluctant to move against the
Haqqani network, however, because of traditional ties between their
forces, and because Islamabad may want to use the group to influence
events in Afghanistan after 2014 when most foreign forces will have
withdrawn from the country.