Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pakistani military want veto on drone strikes

Pakistani civilian and military leaders are insisting on an effective veto over which targets US drone strikes hit, according to well-informed Pakistani military sources here.

The sources, who met on condition that they not be identified, said that such veto power over the conduct of the drone war is a central element in a new Pakistani demand for a formal government-to-government agreement on the terms under which the United States and Pakistan will cooperate against insurgents in Pakistan.

The basic government-to-government agreement now being demanded would be followed, the sources said, by more detailed agreements between US and Pakistani military leaders and intelligence agencies.

The new Pakistani demand for equal say over drone strikes marks the culmination of a long evolution in the Pakistani military's attitude toward the drone war. Initially supportive of strikes that were targeting Al-Qaeda leaders, senior Pakistani military leaders soon came to realise that the drone war carried serious risks for Pakistan's war against the Pakistani Taliban.

A key turning point in the attitude of the military was the unilateral US decision to focus the drone war on those Pakistani insurgents who had already decided to make peace with the Pakistani government and who opposed the war being waged by Al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban against the Pakistani military. (more)