A US drone strike destroyed a vehicle in the North Waziristan tribal region on Friday, killing four suspected militants, local officials said.
The latest strike took place as officials from Pakistan and the US are engaged in extensive diplomacy to repair their bilateral ties which were badly damaged by the May 2 unilateral raid by US commandos in Abbottabad that had killed al Qaeda kingpin Osama bin Laden.
On Friday a US pilot-less aircraft fired two missiles in the Tappi area, 10 kilometres east of Miramshah, the main town of North Waziristan, where US officials want Pakistan to launch an offensive against the Haqqani network blamed for most attacks on US-led Nato troops in Afghanistan.
“A US drone targeting a vehicle fired two missiles killing four militants,” a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity. Another local security official confirmed the strike and casualties, saying that identities of those killed in the attack were not immediately known.
It was the seventh attack to be reported in the tribal areas since the Abbottabad raid.
Analysts said any expectations that the CIA would abandon the drone campaign were misplaced, even if Pakistani leaders for domestic political purposes criticised the strikes.
The drone strikes inflame anti-US feeling, which heightened further after the operation against Bin Laden. The provincial Punjab government on Friday reacted strongly to the continuing drone strikes saying that it will cancel all agreements with the United States.
“The Punjab government has decided in principle to cancel four memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with the US, worth Rs20 billion, in protest against the drone strikes,” a senior provincial government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
However, US embassy spokesman Alberto Rodriguez said there had been “no official notification” of any decision to scrap US aid projects in Punjab.
Meanwhile, cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan said on Friday that workers from his party – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf – would block the Karachi port, which is
important to logistical
support for the NATO force, to protest against the drone strikes.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2011.