US cuts back on drone strikes in Pakistan, report

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The United States has sharply restrained drone strikes in Pakistan following a request from the government to curtail the attacks during peace negotiation with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), US newspaper the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
An official from US administration was quoted by the newspaper as saying, “That’s what they asked for, and we didn’t tell them no.”
The news report stated that the drone strikes have been paused since December, which is the longest suspension in the drone campaign by the CIA since 2011, when an errant drone attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at a border post.
The current suspension follows a November strike that killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud just days before an initial attempt at peace talks was scheduled to commence.
US was blamed by the Pakistani government of attempting to sabotage the peace efforts while TTP cancelled the meeting.
The report has mentioned the US administration’s indication to carry out such attacks on al-Qaeda targets if they pose an immediate threat to Americans.
According to the news report, a senior administration official, in response to queries, denied that any informal agreement had been reached
“The issue of whether to negotiate with the Pakistani Taliban is entirely an internal matter for Pakistan.”
The administration is “continuing to aggressively identify and disrupt terrorist threats in the Afghan war theatre and outside areas of active hostilities in line with our established CT [counterterrorism] objectives and legal and policy standards. . . . Reports that we have agreed to a different approach in support of Pakistani peace talks are wrong,” the senior official was quoted by the Washington Post.

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