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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid