As the US-Pakistan relationship continues to plummet, the US has placed its covert air campaign against al Qaeda and Taliban operatives in Pakistan’s tribal agencies “on hold” The Long War Journal reported.
According to the report, US officials fear that an attack at this point in time would further damage the already brittle relationship between the allies. Several US intelligence officials involved in the CIA programme, which uses unmanned Predator and Reaper strike aircraft told The Long War Journal.
“There is concern that another hit [by the drones] will push US-Pak relations past the point of no return,” one official told The Long War Journal. “We don’t know how far we can push them [Pakistan], how much more they are willing to tolerate.”
One official was clear that the programme is “on hold” but that they would consider striking if a target of opportunity presented itself.
“We may strike soon if an extremely high value target pops up, but otherwise there is hesitation to pull the trigger right now,” the intelligence official said. The official refused to say which terror leaders would cause the US to reconsider the pause, and attack.
Relations between the two countries have been deteriorating over the past two years but the November 26 US airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani troops in Mohmand led to Pakistan shutting down the Chaman and Torkham (Khyber Pass) border crossings to Nato supply convoys, boycott of the Bonn conference and US evacuation of Shamsi Airbase in Balochistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2011.