End to US drone hits if military launches North Waziristan operation

Published: April 22, 2011
Mullen tells Kayani that the CIA-led Predator strikes would continue until Pakistan eliminates Haqqani network from its tribal area.

Mullen tells Kayani that the CIA-led Predator strikes would continue until Pakistan eliminates Haqqani network from its tribal area.


The United States has linked the halting of the drone campaign in the tribal belt with the Pakistan military launching a full-scale operation against the influential Afghan insurgent group, the Haqqani network, allegedly based in North Waziristan.

US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen told Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani during marathon talks in Rawalpindi on Wednesday that the CIA-led Predator strikes would continue until Pakistan eliminates Haqqani network from its the tribal region, The Express Tribune has learnt.

However, officials privy to the discussions said General Kayani refused to give any assurance or timeline to the top American military commander on carrying out an all-out assault in North Waziristan.

“Our position is absolutely clear that the operation in North Waziristan will be launched only if it is in the national interest,” said a security official, who requested not to be identified.

The Pakistan’s security establishment has long been accused of having links with the Afghan Taliban particularly the influential Haqqani network.

The American officials say Pakistan’s reluctance to go after the deadliest Afghan militant outfit in its tribal belt is the main reason the Obama administration had to rely on unmanned drones to take out “high value” targets.

But General Kayani strongly dismissed such perceptions, saying the military is committed to defeating extremists.

“The COAS highlighted that Pakistan Army’s ongoing operations are a testimony of our national resolve to defeat terrorism,” said a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations after Kayani’s meeting with Mullen.

“The COAS reinforced the government’s stance on drone strikes and emphasised that they not only undermine our national effort against terrorism, but turn public support against our efforts, which remains the key to success,” the statement added.

It said Kayani strongly rejects the negative propaganda of Pakistan not doing enough and Pakistan Army’s lack of clarity on the way forward.

His remarks came in response to Admiral Mullen’s blunt assessment that the ISI had a “longstanding relationship” with the Haqqani network.

Military sources say the army chief conveyed strong reservations to Mullen on his accusations against the Pakistan’s premier spy agency.

Despite tensions, the ISPR quoted Admiral Mullen as saying that he lauded the sacrifices and efforts of the people of Pakistan and its security forces, and reassured that security ties will not be allowed to unravel between the two armed forces.

The army chief acknowledged that the evolving Pak-US strategic relations are important for mutual long term objectives of comprehensive security in both the countries.

The relations between Washington and Islamabad have been under stress due to a series of incidents including the killing of two Pakistanis by a CIA contractor and drone attacks, one of which killed some 40 tribal elders.

The two countries have since been making serious efforts to defuse the tension. Mullen was the second top American military official who visited Islamabad in less than two weeks following a trip by US Central Command Chief General James Mattis on April 7.

In addition to these visits, the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence chief General Ahmed Shuja Pasha also flew to Washington for discussions with CIA Chief Leon Paneta last week.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • Apr 22, 2011 - 8:19AM

    Utter nonsense by Mullen.

    What high level target from the Haqqani network has been taken out by US drones in NW after all these years of operation?

    What impact have all these drone attacks over all these years had on the Haqqani network?

    The stance of Mullen is typical of an arrogant colonial power committed to internationally illegal actions on another nations territory – but of course we know US history is full of such instances.Recommend

  • Apr 22, 2011 - 9:03AM

    And then this happens:


    What is Mullen and the US doing about this?

    Perhaps they should focus on flying drones on the Afghan side where these terrorists continue to operate freely and attack Pakistan from, rather than scapegoating Pakistan and threatening and bullying it.

    Let me remind readers about other incidents related to this – Qari Ziaur Rehman, an Afghan Taliban commander based on Konar, led thousands of fighters into Bajaur and Mohmand several times in support of the Taliban groups there when the PA launched operations in those agencies. The US made little to no effort against these groups.Recommend

  • Babar
    Apr 22, 2011 - 9:12AM

    I thought we Pakistanis won our independence from the gora in 1947. Who is this gora to tell Pakistan what to do in our territory. Go back to America Mullen, we dont wat you in South/Central Asia.

    If this is what Mullen wants then Pakistan army should shift Haqqani network to some other part of FATA. FATA is actually huge, North Waziristan is just one part of FATA. Haqqani network are the only Afghans who are protecting Pakistan’s interests in the region while Karzai is making plans with India on how to destroy Pakistan.Recommend

  • bvindh
    Apr 22, 2011 - 9:27AM

    ““Our position is absolutely clear that the operation in North Waziristan will be launched only if it is in the national interest,” said a security official, who requested not to be identified.”

    — So, elimination of terrorists is still not fully aligned with Pakistani interests?Recommend

  • ba ha
    Apr 22, 2011 - 9:36AM

    would you buy a used car from this man??Recommend

  • ba ha
    Apr 22, 2011 - 9:37AM

    would you buy a used drone from this manRecommend

  • John
    Apr 22, 2011 - 9:57AM

    “the operation in North Waziristan will be launched only if it is in the national interest,”

    Saving Haqqani network is in PAK national interest?

    He is not even pakistan citizen. Whose national interest does he represent and why is PAK so interested in aiding him.

    If PAK thinks that Haqqani network will be PAK proxy in Afghanistan against India, in the future, PAK will be not only destabilizing Afghanistan but also PAK, essentially the present situation.

    If PAK thinks that good old Haqqani will help in proxy war against India, she is mistaken. PAK will be sucked in quagmire, and the world will ignore PAK nuclear weapon or not.

    The world has changed since 9/11 and the old assets are no longer useful. Their ideology and PAK future do not match.

    Haqqani will eventually bring Mulla parties to power in PAK first.

    Control PAK, control Afghanistan, is it not the game that PAK is playing with Afghanistan?

    Why is Haqqani any different? Recommend

  • faraz
    Apr 22, 2011 - 10:28AM

    Realistically speaking, our army and agencies have certain limitations. They know they won’t be able to stop the flood of suicide bombers unleashed by the Taliban as a result of military operation. And that’s precisely why it’s satisfied with the drone attacks. Unlike TTP, the Taliban under Haqqani or Gul Bahadar don’t really carry out attacks inside the country. Of course we have lost control over our territory in North Waziristan, but its better then civilians getting massacred in suicide blasts. Let the drones and Taliban battle it out with each other, just leave us alone, that seems to be the motto of our military establishment. Recommend

  • A J Khan
    Apr 22, 2011 - 10:51AM

    The reluctance of Pakistan to launch offensive in North Waziristan is on many calculations:-
    1. Pakistan Army is fully stretched.
    2. Poor economic condition to support such an operation.
    3. Operational capacity reduced due to heavy wear and tear of the military hard ware during last ten years..
    4. Over fatigue of nation and troops.
    5. USA outsourcing its operational and military problems.
    6. If NATO and USA together cannot overcome the menace, how could Pakistan do it alone.
    7. Considering alternate policy to achieve the same end.
    8. Pakistan considering seriously post US pullout scenario and does not want to put all eggs in the same basket like 1989 Afghan end game.Recommend

  • observer
    Apr 22, 2011 - 11:02AM

    “Our position is absolutely clear that the operation in North Waziristan will be launched only if it is in the national interest,” said a security official, who requested not to be identified.

    OK, so having N Waziristan under the control of trainers suicide bombers and ‘agents of hostile agencies’ is actually in the ‘national interest’ of Pakistan. That at least should put all allegations against CIA/RAW/MOSSAD to rest.

    The ‘ghairat’ and ‘sovereignty’ brigade should also keep their mouths shut, as the ‘guardians of Pakistan’s ideological and physical boundaries’ have spoken.Recommend

  • Palvasha von Hassell
    Apr 22, 2011 - 1:58PM

    How humiliating to be dictated to by Rambo generals…if I were Kiyani, I could hardly disguise the scorn on my face.Recommend

  • Ik
    Apr 22, 2011 - 1:59PM

    So pak army protects the haqqani network. Its very obvious now. If srilankan army can take on LTTE without any foreign support or aid why can’t pak army. I support drone attacks as pakistan army is undoubtedly protecting militants who dont fight them.Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    Apr 22, 2011 - 2:28PM

    This is the Gora who incidently pays your bills and gives your Army all the lovely toys they like playing with!! So one should listen to them as without them your very existance in in doubt.
    This shows that the Pak Army has no interest in taking on the terrorist cells in NW! Period ! So the Drone attacks will continue and there will be collateral damage in terms of innocent casulties !!
    If the Govt or the Army of Pakistan had any honour and pride, then they would act in order to reduce these casulties, however it seems life is cheap for them to really do anything about it.Recommend

  • Jahan Zeb Khan
    Apr 22, 2011 - 9:37PM

    I wish Pakistan clean its own backyard from Let, Haqqani Network. Quetta Shura and launch our own operation before others press us.BTW, it was Ms Clinton’s threat that enforced us to start Swat operation. Do we need another from Obama this time?Recommend

  • Observer
    Apr 23, 2011 - 12:51AM

    Pakistan has proven ties with Haqqani network.
    US have proven ties with Drug and War lords in the name of Northern Alliance.

    Haqqani network is supported by Pakistan because it has only attacked forces occupying Afghanistan (both Soviet Union and US).
    US support Tehrik Taliban Pakistan as a counter force because it attacks Pakistan and not a treat to US interests in Afghanistan.

    Pakistan conducts an operation against Pakistani Taliban and leaves Haqqani alone
    US carry drone attacks at Haqqani and leaves Pakistani Taliban alone.

    End of the day it is what’s in a countries interest. No one stands moral high ground in this mess. It is interesting to observe Pakistan military securing US money as well as nurturing their assets who are not US friendly at the same time.

    Haqqani Network has more of a nationalist agenda than the religious lunacy of Taliban. They were offered position of Prime minister by Karzai government as well as a ministry by Taliban. And they were supported at one time by the US. They are positioned somewhere in between the corrupt Warlord Drug Lord alliance currently in power and the Taliban lunatics. Considering the circumstances they are not a bad choice after US leaves Afghanistan. Recommend

  • S. H. Zaidi
    Apr 26, 2011 - 2:42PM

    Who will bell the cat

    The problem with the current crop of leaders is that they want to eat their cake and have it, too. No amount of rhetoric would induce the Americans to end these strikes. Under current conditions, drone strikes would cease only when the the American military feels they no longer need to carry out these strikes.
    As for conferences and resolutions, you can hold as many and as many as you like, but in the end the problem would remain: “Who will bell the cat?”

    Probably these leaders are tackling domestic and international problems in reverse manner. They use force against their opponents in domestic politics but are most conciliatory and talk of ‘principles’ and ‘law’ in inter-state dealings!
    Whom are they kidding?

  • harkol
    May 10, 2011 - 5:50PM

    Pakistan underestimated US resolve and its army bet that US will not risk rubbing Pakistan the wrong way by putting boots on Pakistani soil. With OBL raid, that bet has come out a cropper.

    If Pakistan pursues the strategies some commentators keep saying over here, like “we can’t be dictated to by US” etc. They’ll invite even more incursions from US, and if US is not getting results, perhaps the stretching of war in to Pakistan territories with all US might. This is Obama’s stated policy – He felt this war is just.

    Now, one can argue the rights & wrongs of US policy. But, one can’t argue that the course Pakistan is taking is disastrous from all angles. It stands to gain nothing by aligning with Terrorists, and has trust and peace to gain by aligning with the world.

    World won’t stand by and watch a swamp that hosts and produces mosquitoes to continue. If the owner doesn’t clean the swamp, it’ll forcibly cleaned up.

    Won’t it be better for Pakistan to clean it up itself?Recommend

  • May 10, 2011 - 10:36PM


    There is an entirely wrong understanding that USA is paying dollars for the operations in Tribal Area.
    USA is only paying for the fuel used, wear and tear of weapons, vehicles and equipment ONLY.

    Bills are prepared by Army and are sent to Ministry of Defence which sends those to US Embassy .These bills are scrutinized by US Military people at US Embassy in Islamabad.

    Then papers are sent to PENTAGON USA who send those to US Treasury.

    Money is NOT paid to Pak Army as it is commonly perceived.

    Money directly comes to the Treasury of Pakistan in State Bank.Recommend

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