US sharply curtails drone strikes in Pakistan: Report

Published: February 5, 2014
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Photo of a drone. PHOTO: AFP

Photo of a drone. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: The United States has cut back sharply on drone strikes in Pakistan after the Islamabad government asked for restraint while it seeks peace talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

The Post quoted a US official as saying, “That’s what they asked for, and we didn’t tell them no.”

The newspaper said there had been a lull in such attacks since December, the longest break since 2011. The newspaper said the Obama administration indicated it would continue carrying out strikes on senior al Qaeda officials if they were to become available or to thwart any immediate threat to Americans.

Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the report. The Post quoted a senior Obama administration official as denying an informal agreement had been reached, saying, “The issue of whether to negotiate with the TTP is entirely an internal matter for Pakistan.”

While some Pakistanis welcome the strikes, saying they kill fewer civilians and are more effective against militants than traditional military operations, others argue the strikes still cause civilian casualties, terrify residents and violate Pakistani sovereignty. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said he wants the drone strikes to end.

The Post said the current US pause came after a November strike that killed the TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud. That attack took place a day after Pakistan’s foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz was quoted as saying the United States had promised not to conduct drone strikes while the government tries to engage the Taliban in peace talks.

An annual study by a British-based organization found that CIA drone strikes against militants in Pakistan killed no more than four civilians last year, the lowest number of reported civilian deaths since the drone program began in 2004.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • mystriousforever
    Feb 5, 2014 - 1:00PM

    ET support Drones… why mention only one report which provide wrong info. about only 4 civilian death… there are many reports which said that the civilian death due to drones is in thousands including women and children

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  • Wali
    Feb 5, 2014 - 1:00PM

    OK…. Time for the talks and no more excuses!

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  • Zafar
    Feb 5, 2014 - 2:56PM

    @mystriousforever:
    If you have any such information you can share it.

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  • ADEEL
    Feb 5, 2014 - 6:46PM

    Well, we all can see that the Bomb Blasts and casualities have multiplied since drone operations have been reduced.
    This disposes the myth by apologists that terrorism in pakistan is due to drone attacks.Recommend

  • Stranger
    Feb 5, 2014 - 8:03PM

    The drone -the national bird of Pak.Recommend

  • unbelievable
    Feb 5, 2014 - 8:38PM

    @mystriousforever:

    ET support Drones… why mention only
    one report which provide wrong info

    It’s a Reuters article – clearly indicated directly under the title. ET has no control over it’s content. :Like it or not it’s news and worthy of inclusion in any newspaper whether you like the content or not.Recommend

  • BabaJan
    Feb 5, 2014 - 11:48PM

    America is answerable to no law or international body. It imposes its will on others by hook or by crook. Creating bad press, to engineering economic hardship, to launching militants, to use of force, to orchesterating coups, to fomenting civil wars, to committing untold atrocities are all fair game for her. If the government of Pakistan was its puppet, America would have conveniently used it as a rubber stamp, and since its not, America conveniently ignores it. The bottom line is America’s interest, talk of democracy and terrorism is an eye wash to pursue those interests. Similar is the case of UN, if UN acts as America’s puppet, she uses it as a rubber stamp, else America ignores it. America has always supported dictators in Pakistan as their weak position at home can be exploited for advancing America’s interests. In order to create confusion and discredit the efforts of current government of Pakistan, America is trying to create an impression that drone operations are being conducted with the consent of the government of Pakistan, which is not true. This only happened under the dictator, whom America exploited as usual. All surveys report that an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis don’t want these drone operations but that is not important for America. On the other hand if there is an issue that less than 5% of Pakistanis care about but it can be used to exploit the government, Americans would blow it up to look like a major issue for the sake of her interests.Recommend

  • rkfrom ny
    Feb 6, 2014 - 12:17AM

    they have instead started focussing on the acts of the innumerable CIA that wanders your land…!!

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  • numbersnumbers
    Feb 6, 2014 - 2:27AM

    Hope that drone strikes stop so that government cannot blame failure of farcical “Talks” (surrender negotiations?) with “our brothers” the TTP on a drone strike (though the government is probably begging the Americans for one as we speak)!
    Such is the theatrical production that the Taliban’s representatives now claim to be representing both sides of the issue, giving running commentaries on issues (such as that the Taliban are fighting for the constitution of PAKISTAN!) while the official government team is mute!!!

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  • numbersnumbers
    Feb 6, 2014 - 2:30AM

    @mystriousforever:
    And of course you can provide us with the locations of those “reports” that you claim say that drone strike casualties for civilians run in the thousands including women and children!!! NOT!

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