News / Asia

Pakistan Says Drone Strikes Have Been Effective

An unarmed U.S. 'Shadow' drone is pictured in flight in this undated photograph, (File)
An unarmed U.S. 'Shadow' drone is pictured in flight in this undated photograph, (File)

A top Pakistani military commander acknowledged this week that the U.S drone strikes against militant hideouts have been an effective weapon in the anti-militancy fight.

Analysts say the rare public admission by the powerful military will help remove misperceptions about the American drone program that has targeted al-Qaida and Taliban-linked fighters in the country's tribal region on the Afghan border.

Pakistan's lawless North Waziristan region has been the focus of most of the missile strikes that the unmanned U.S spy plans - or drones - have carried out against al-Qaida and Taliban-linked militants.

U.S army officials believe the mountainous Pakistani border district has become the "epicenter" of international terrorism and is being used for attacks on coalition forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

In recent years, U.S. drones have stepped up missile strikes on militant positions in the North Waziristan region. But alleged civilian deaths in these raids are being cited as a major source of growing anti-American sentiment in Pakistan, a vital U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism.

Publicly, the powerful Pakistani military and the political leadership have been condemning drone attacks as a violation of the country's sovereignty. But it is widely believed that local authorities help with intelligence information for the CIA-run drone program.

But the Pakistani general leading troops in the North Waziristan has for the first time publicly acknowledged the U.S drone attacks are hitting mostly militants and al-Qaida fighters.

Major-General Ghayur Mehmood spoke to a group of Pakistani reporters on a rare trip to Miran Shah, the administrative center of North Waziristan.

The Pakistani general says that information the military has gathered from its sources suggest most of those killed in drone attacks are hardcore militants, and the number of innocent people being killed is relatively low.

The official paper distributed among reporters says that there have been 164 drone strikes in the militant-dominated region of North Waziristan since 2007, killing 964 "terrorists". There were 171 al-Qaida fighters among those killed, mostly belonging to central Asian and Arab countries.

Analysts like former army general Talat Masood suggest that the rare admission by the Pakistani military about the effectiveness of drone attacks could be exploited to make the general public understand the dilemma their country is facing.

"Because on one hand the drone attacks are a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and it is also a violation of international law. But at the same time, they have a certain tactical utility in the sense that Pakistan has lost control over these areas and if the American drones help in containing these forces and also killing some of the militants, specially their top leadership, then it will facilitate Pakistan's fighting against the militant forces," Masood states.

Ayesha Siddiqua is a social scientist with deep insight into Pakistani military affairs. In a country where the army is seen as the main power broker, she says the acknowledgement about drones being a useful tactic against militants is likely to help political leaders to seek legitimacy for the strikes in public discourse.  

"It basically means that the political dispensation is under greater pressure, is much more answerable to the people and, therefore, they have to at least cook some stories. But in reality, the military which is not answerable to any public, it is also a party to the decision of conducting drone attacks," Siddiqua said. "So I think the most significant thing is that the Pakistani army is not shedding its responsibility of being a party to the decision to the drone attack [and that] intelligence is provided by our own sources."

The United States does not acknowledge the drone campaign but American officials describe the missile strikes as an important weapon against militants. Observers say the Pakistani military's nod to the effectiveness of the U.S campaign could serve the interest of both countries in sending a message to critics of the drone program that they are avoiding civilian deaths and that the strikes are militarily effective.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs