An Intensifying UAV campaign


Details of latest drone attack shrouded in mystery

So far, conflicting and confusing reports have emerged concerning the four US drone attacks on Monday and Tuesday that need further official verification and confirmation. According to security officials and intelligence sources, three UAVs fired six missiles at a house or compound on Monday (with a repeat attack on Tuesday) on the Pak-Afghan border with the targeted place variously located right on the zero line of the border.

In addition to this there were unconfirmed reports that the strikes were carried out  not by drones but by Afghan fighter aircraft and the collated reports present a sketchy picture of where this mayhem precisely occurred.

Latest reports by a private channel indicate that the target of the aptly named Predator drone was a hideout of the Haqqani network, which the US considers its arch-nemesis in Afghanistan and holds responsible for numerous deadly attacks in Kabul and the deaths of US and Afghan soldiers and civilians.

The man in the cross-hairs was Abu Bakar, a commander of the hated outfit, and the total death toll last stood at twenty six. If true, and in case this casualty figure does not include civilians, the euphemistically termed ‘collateral damage’, the strike would have dealt a not insignificant blow to the earlier easy terrorist outreach of the group and made others warier about their free movement.

But the million dollar question is: if indeed the Haqqanis were targeted, was it with Pakistan’s shared intelligence and complicity, and does this signal a sea-change in the latter’s much criticised alleged soft corner or affiliation for the feared faction, as demanded in a threatening tone by President Trump in his new Afghan policy speech in August?

Violation of the country’s sovereignty and border space is painful, but unpredictable Trump (with praise one moment, glare the next), surrounded by retired generals in top positions, has intensified the drone war not only in the region at a time when the four-nation peace talks were ongoing in Muscat, but also in the Middle East.