Notable about this campaign in Pakistan:
1. In February and March this campaign was being conducted by U.S. military contractors under dispatch of the CIA using UAV's, unmanned drones. Scrutiny was the result both locally and in the U.S. because reports of civilian deaths in these drone strikes were very high. It did not help the U.S. effort that targets were not high profile enough to resonate with the public as Public Enemy #X being "taken out," albeit through extrajudicial (illegal) means. Names of the dead in these attacks have not been made available let alone information that might corroborate claims the target was actually an armed enemy of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and/or civilians in the U.S.
2. This month operations shifted to a significant campaign mounted by Pakistan's own military within its borders. This shift in campaigns followed a meeting between Pakistan's foreign minister and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A campaign of this type will naturally accent the rifts in Pakistani society between people who live and work in populated areas and the capital Islamabad whose lives could be described as modern or influenced by the West and those who live out their lives on the land in remote areas and have little contact with national Pakistan. This can be said of many conflicts, especially in previously colonized areas of Africa and Asia.
3. News reports from the Pakistani campaign were typically sourced to one local official who presides to some effect over the region where a battle occurred. Pakistani officials consistently reported number of militants killed with no reports of civilians present, let alone killed or injured in violent exchanges. This marks a measurable departure from the press situation in Afghanistan where journalists embedded with the U.S. military report from the front of battle with the unit they accompany. Information in Pakistan is limited to the honesty of the official source and is difficult to dispute with no witness from international or regional media present.
4. In the last two weeks efforts in Pakistan against militants including members and recruits of the Pakistani Taliban have again shifted to CIA-operated drones. We have to ask if this is a separate campaign (probably classified information), if this is a joint operation supporting Pakistan's military, if Islamabad knew about the resumption of CIA drone strikes or if there ever was a cessation to the drone program whatsoever. Also, it has been reported these operations, which can be operated as remotely as U.S. military bases in the western hemisphere, have previously been administered by private contractors including Xe, formerly Blackwater, Inc. Is this still the case, and is anyone in Pakistan aware of that?
5. While we're at it, since the financial world back home is collapsing around us, we might as well ask how much it costs to run a CIA drone program in Pakistan. If the U.S. is hunting terrorists associated with attacks on New York City or a perpetrated Christmas attack in Detroit, the U.S. public across the spectrum will likely support financing of such a program. If the CIA drone program is stimulating anger toward U.S. military presence in the Middle East and drafting new terrorists by hundreds or thousands a month into the camps of organizations bent on the destruction of the enemies of radical Islam, that situation will realistically not be reported by Western media or entirely classified by the U.S. government based upon what we've seen so far.
Newest report follows ...
U.S. drone strike kills five in Pakistan
Mon Apr 26, 2010 3:11am EDT
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (Reuters) - Three missiles fired by U.S. drone aircraft struck a militant compound in Pakistan's North Waziristan region near the Afghan border on Monday, killing five militants, intelligence officials said.
The strike took place about 24 km (15 miles) east of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, known as a hotbed of Taliban and al Qaeda militants, they said.
"We have got confirmed reports of five dead but the number could be higher," said a Pakistani intelligence official in the region, who declined to be identified.
Another official said militants had cordoned off the area.
It was the second attack by pilotless U.S. aircraft in the area in the past two days. Seven militants were killed in a similar strike on Saturday.
The United States, struggling to stabilize Afghanistan, stepped up its missile strikes in Pakistan's northwest after a Jordanian suicide bomber killed seven CIA employees at a U.S. base across the border in the eastern Afghan province of Khost in December.
Most of the attacks this year have been in North Waziristan.
U.S. ally Pakistan officially objects to the drone strikes, saying they are a violation of its sovereignty and fuel anti-U.S. feeling, which complicates Pakistan's efforts against militancy.
(Reporting by Haji Mujtaba and Alamgir Bitani; Writing by Kamran Haider; Editing by Robert Birsel and Paul Tait)