50% drop in drone strikes as Pak-US ties plunge

Published: January 5, 2012
Legal cases, Salala attack, all contributed to the decline, say experts.

Legal cases, Salala attack, all contributed to the decline, say experts.


US drone strikes in Pakistan are still considered a taboo topic, but in spite of the little information available, reports indicate strikes have decreased by almost 50%.  A total of 118 drone attacks were reported in 2010, while in 2011 this figure dropped to 67 strikes, a comparative analysis by The Express Tribune reveals.

There is a general consensus that the ‘war on terror’ in Pakistan is in many ways directly linked to the security situation in Afghanistan. Questions relevant to the drone strikes are: Does a decrease in drone strikes mean a decrease in suicide attacks? Does the US withdrawal from Afghanistan mean the end of terror in Pakistan?

Former chief secretary of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Khalid Aziz thinks the problem Pakistan faces is far more deep-rooted, and can’t be solved merely through American withdrawal from Afghanistan. “There needs to be a change in the mindset, we are not at peace with anyone, but fighting against the universe,” he says.

While a post US withdrawal from Afghanistan scenario can only be speculated upon at this point, what is certain is that 2011 witnessed fewer drone attacks. This decline can be attributed to three reasons, according to Brigadier Mehmood Shah, former security secretary of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).  Firstly, Shah says, there’s the Raymond Davis issue, which he refers to as the ‘Great Embarrassment’ after much talk of so-called Black Water and CIA operatives in Pakistan. He adds that Osama’s capture from Pakistan in a covert operation added to the mistrust between both the countries – but the Salala check-post attack on November 26 was the last nail in the coffin.

Furthermore, he says, “As US intentions in Afghanistan become clearer with withdrawal nearing, the pressure on Pakistan is reduced”.  According to Col (retd) Khalid Munir, a retired army officer well acquainted with the geography and politics of the tribal regions, another reason is the increasing coverage on the questionable legality of these strikes and lawsuits filed by drone strikes victims’ families. “These legal issues might seem small at the moment, but I think they will have a great impact in the future,” he says.

Drone strikes have continuously been the subject of resolutions, and debated in parliament with regard to sovereignty. The reality of the attacks, however, is felt more starkly by those close to them – drone attacks have claimed some 370 lives and injured more than 50 this year, with varying figures from different sources. These figures however, remain independently unverifiable.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (16)

  • Falcon
    Jan 5, 2012 - 10:29AM

    US exit from Afghanistan certainly won’t solve Pakistan’s extremist problems. But it will subside the impact of one of the key triggers and would be therefore beneficial for both countries in the long run.


  • Mard-e-Haq
    Jan 5, 2012 - 10:33AM

    Way to go Pakistan. We will have handle our militant extremists our own way — street by street and chowk by chowk — until they either surrender or be expunged from our presence.


  • Amjad
    Jan 5, 2012 - 11:25AM

    I think Pakistanis are handling the militant problem head on by defeating them one by one in the country on their own terms. The general population sees the militants as anti state agents funded by the enemies of Pakistan because they generally harm innocent civilians. Pakistan has learned how to deal with these people.


  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Jan 5, 2012 - 11:33AM

    I can imagine a lot of happy Talibans!!


  • Jan 5, 2012 - 11:46AM

    Pakistan is out and the drone strikes reduced to 50% which means that Pakistan’s contribution to drone strikes was 50%.


  • Nazar
    Jan 5, 2012 - 12:07PM

    Neither the current tension between the US and Pakistan nor the lawsuits filed by the victims’ families are the actual reasons of reduced drone strikes. The news of talks between the Afghan Taliban and the US have been circling in the media far more then before and the silence of the Afghan Taliban also said something which obviously means some kind of ‘dealing’ is going on between the Taliban [Afghan] and the United States…and according to this ‘dealings’ ceasing airstrikes in FATA may be a core condition…..We have also been witnessing de-escalation in the Taliban attacks in Afghanistan for the past couple of months….which pretty much indicates the reason of all the odds happening these days.


  • Jan 5, 2012 - 1:31PM

    Vienna,January 5,2012
    It is not wise to attribute the reduction of drone strikes to
    Pakistan´s OPPOSITION. The Americans have just two
    more targets left. The others have been eliminated.There
    is no point for them pounding Pakistan for no reason. If
    Pakistan gives whole hearted co-operation in reclaiming
    its souvereignty from the terrorist occupiers, the country
    would have stabilized itself.Afghanistan is on the road
    to recovery of social health with or without Pakistan´s
    Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring TTTMM India
    –Kulamarva Balakrishna.


  • Salman Sheikh
    Jan 5, 2012 - 1:38PM

    Why they aren’t using Drones in Afghanistan??


  • Iranian
    Jan 5, 2012 - 1:46PM

    In Iran we brought down one Drone……and sent a clear message
    what on earth is pakistan waiting for


  • Jan 5, 2012 - 3:19PM

    As friend daily strike. As foes no strike.Better be foe’s !


  • MarkH
    Jan 5, 2012 - 3:33PM

    @Salman Sheikh:
    You really have to ask that? It’s because they have other available options Afghanistan. If you acted like an actual ally they wouldn’t need to be used.


  • Ejaz
    Jan 5, 2012 - 5:10PM

    Respect and salute to Iranians the brave hearts.


  • Khan Bhai
    Jan 5, 2012 - 5:10PM

    @Iranian: How did Iran bring the drone down? with ladder technology?


  • NA
    Jan 5, 2012 - 6:56PM

    @Kulamarva Balakrishna:
    Always pointless… Afghanistan is as unstable socially, politically as it was 15 years back. It is only that International media is portraying Afg otherwise.


  • KH Mian
    Jan 6, 2012 - 4:30AM

    Coward Pakistan Air Force. What a shame! Take lessons from Iran on how to defend your homeland.


  • Someone
    Jan 6, 2012 - 10:31AM

    @Lol at your IQ level. Afghanistan on the road to “social recovery”? Militants have been “eliminated”? Too much American Fox news for you


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