US Expands Area in Pakistan Under Attack by Drones

Reuters reported yet another drone attack in Pakistan, on 1 April, 2009. A number of Pakistani Taliban fighters were killed, as well as (apparently) several civilians.

The article reports that there have been about 30 strikes in Pakistan, killing about 300 people, some of whom are al Qaeda, some Taliban, and many civilians. The article also suggests that the strike are driving militants into more populated parts of Pakistan.

The Pakistan government continues to deny that the strikes have Pakistani approval, or that the drones are launched from secret bases in Pakistan. The US has stopped warning the Pakistan government about attacks because it believes that Pakistani security forces have been warning some militants about the attacks.

As pointed out in this article in The Hindi, the Pakistan government is walking a ‘tightrope’ between needing to maintain its relations with the US, and inflaming nationalist sentiments within Pakistan. The drone attacks are unpopular, especially within the tribal areas. It is the position of the Pakistan government that the drone attacks are a violation of its sovereignty and are ‘unhelpful’ in winning the hearts and minds of people in the tribal areas.

An April 5, 2009 article in the Sunday Times suggests that hundreds of thousands of people in the tribal areas are fleeing US drone attacks, creating a humanitarian emergency. Drone attacks and attacks by the Pakistani Air Force have filled refugee camps with people from tribal villages in Pakistan. These refugee camps were formerly only occupied by Afghans fleeing the war in Afghanistan. The article claims that many villages have been flattened by the Pakistani Air Force, which is pressured by the US to step up its attacks on al Queda refuges.

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