United States President Barack Obama has put drone attacks in Pakistan on hold after Islamabad’s decision to step up its military actions in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
According to a private news channel report, the cessation of drone strikes in Pakistan since the beginning of the year is due to a combination of the US president pushing for a more calibrated use of drone strikes, running out of “high value” al Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan’s tribal areas, very strong pushback from the Pakistani public and government who are opposed to the drone strikes on the grounds that they violate Pakistan’s national sovereignty, and the fact that the Pakistani government is stepping up its own military operations against militants in the Pakistani tribal region of North Waziristan, where the majority of CIA drone strikes have taken place.
Air strikes by Pakistani Air Force, for instance, killed approximately 60 people on Wednesday in North Waziristan. Indeed, the CIA drone program in Pakistan has stopped completely since the beginning of this year. This is a noteworthy development given the fact that there have been 370 drone strikes in Pakistan over the past decade that have killed somewhere between 2,080 to 3,428 people, most of whom were suspected militants, but also a smaller number of civilians.
In Pakistan, there have also been no reported civilian casualties from CIA drone strikes during the past year, according to data collected by the New America Foundation.
The report concluded that since the US president’s speech arguing for ending America’s endless war on terror, there has been a marked change in the CIA’s drone program in Pakistan, which has effectively ended. Yet there has been little real change in the similar drone program in Yemen.