JOE WOLVERTON, II
April 1, 2012
About 3 a.m. local time, two Hellfire missiles were fired by a U.S. Predator Drone at a house in Pakistan on Friday morning, killing four people suspected of being members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban.
The target of Friday’s strike was a building in Miranshah, the largest town in the North Waziristan area, designated by the U.S. government as a compound in use by the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Eyewitnesses report that the missiles caused a fire that destroyed the entire structure.
Early reports indicate that three alleged “militants” were killed by the drone, while four others were wounded, one or more of whom was a foreigner. Statements made by anonymous agents of the Pakistani government indicate that the missiles destroyed the house while those inside were asleep.
Although Pakistan has called on the United States to cease the drone attacks within that country, the Obama administration has ignored this request. In fact, the number of drones in the air, missiles fired by them, and the body count all continue increasing exponentially under orders issued by Barack Obama.
The government of Pakistan castigates its erstwhile ally for the prosecution of the Predator program, calling it an overt attack on the country’s sovereignty. However, other credible reports from inside the government indicate that while the official stance of Pakistan is to denounce the attacks, behind the scenes they have taken another tack — allowing drones to launch from Pakistani airbases and providing intelligence to help track targets.
Pakistan’s cooperative posture might be slouching lately, however, after the death of two Pakistani soldiers deployed along that nation’s border with Afghanistan. In all, at least 24 Pakistani soldiers have been killed by drones deployed in American airstrikes. Pakistan responded by shutting down the pipeline of NATO materiel that runs through the country, as well as booting the United States and its Predator drones off of an airbase in the southwest region of the country.
The move proved to be little more than an inconvenience, as the base was used by the United States only to repair planes and Predators damaged in Afghanistan. For Pakistan, though, the opposition is likely indicative of a more long-term policy shift. In fact, the nation’s parliament is now embroiled in lengthy debates about their support for the drone program going forward.
On Thursday, officials of the government of Pakistan called for talks with the United States to commence before the debates in parliament are wrapped up.