WASHINGTON: The US drone programme, which conducts aerial strikes against suspected militant targets in tribal areas, will not only ultimately fail to influence the outcome of an Afghan settlement, but also severely tarnish America’s image in Pakistan, an American expert stressed in a newspaper opinion piece.
Michael Krepon, who is the Director and co-founder of the South Asian Program at the Stimson Center, noted in The Washington Post that Afghanistan’s future matters more critically to Pakistan than to the United States.
“Afghanistan’s future matters much more to Pakistan than to the United States. This elemental truth is forgotten in US deliberations about how best to leverage Pakistan to achieve a political settlement in Afghanistan,” he noted.
About the unmanned predator drone strikes, which the US regularly carries out against militant targets, the expert noted they have only succeeded in casting the US in a more negative light than even longtime arch rival India. “These strikes will ultimately fail to influence the outcome of an Afghan settlement, but they have already succeeded in making the United States more hated in Pakistan than India.”
Islamabad has repeatedly denounced drone attacks on its tribal areas as counterproductive to the overall fight against terror, and that such unilateral actions violate the country’s sovereignty and provoke militancy.
Human rights activists have also condemned drone strikes for the high number of civilian casualties. The Obama administration claims drones are important in taking out al Qaeda linked militants.
In the Post, Krepon wrote that Pakistan wants a government in Kabul that, after most of US troops withdraw in 2014, will be friendlier to it than India. He said Pakistani resolve is rooted in the assumption that, if India gains a strong foothold in Afghanistan, then Pakistan’s largest and most resource-rich province, Balochistan, would be ripe for an India-supported insurgency.