As the US continues and intensifies its use of unmanned Predator drone aircraft (flown remotely by operators in the US) to strike at targets in Pakistan, resistance is increasing both in Pakistan and in the US.
On March 17, a US missile strike fired from a drone killed more than 40 people in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region. Pakistani officials claim that the dead were civilian tribal elders meeting to resolve a mining rights dispute, but the US military claims that those killed were Taliban militants.
The Pakistani government has protested the drone-strikes as a violation of their sovereignty.
Recently, two high-level meetings between US military and Pakistani intelligence officials — one in Washington DC between the US CIA Chief and the Pakistani ISI Chief and one in Pakistan between US Admiral Mike Mullen (Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff) and General Khalid Shameem Wynne (Pakistani military chief) — took place to discuss the issue.
Two days after the CIA/ISI meeting, while the Mullen/Wynne meetings were taking place, another US drone strike killed 25 or more people in North Waziristan. According to officials, those killed included 18 suspected militants, three women, and four children.
Both drone strikes sparked protests by Pakistani citizens as well as official protests from Pakistani government officials. The protests by Pakistani citizens included a mass demonstration that shut down critical NATO military supply shipments from Pakistan into Afghanistan.
Some Pakistani intelligence officials, in frustration over US drone strikes, disclosed that the US has personnel in Pakistan to refuel and relaunch the drones but may now be shutting down that operation. US officials deny the existence of military or CIA personnel in Pakistan but otherwise refuses to discuss the matter.
Meanwhile, in the US, protesters blockaded Hancock Air Base in upstate New York to protest the US military’s use of drones, resulting in 37 arrests.
Other Drone-Related News and Analysis
- Democracy Now: Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century
- Washington Post: Are drones a technological tipping point in warfare?
- London Telegraph: One in three killed by US drones in Pakistan is a civilian, report claims