Drone Strikes Sabotage Pakistan's Anti-Terror Efforts, and Make the U.S. Less Safe


At least nine Pakistani soldiers and four paramilitary soldiers were killed in an attack carried out by Taliban militants on a Pakistani Army base in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, officials have reported. Ten civilians living in a compound nearby were also killed, including three women and three children.

The raid took place only a day after a suicide bombing in the same northwest region killed at least 26 people, wounding 33 others.

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, also known as the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for both attacks. According to the militant group that has terrorized Pakistan for years, the second attack on Saturday was retribution for the deaths of two of their commanders in an American drone strike last month.

"Pakistan has been co-operating with the U.S. in its drone strikes that killed our two senior commanders, Faisal Khan and Toofani, and the attack on military camp was the revenge of their killing," a Taliban spokesman said, according to Reuters.

Occurrences such as these demonstrate the catch-22 situation Pakistan continues to face ever since the Taliban gained a strong foothold in the tribal regions of the country. If Pakistan supports America, they face an onslaught of attacks from the Taliban for their alliance with the US. But if they don't support America in its operations in the tribal regions, well, it's safe to say they'll face America's wrath for their lack of cooperation.

For Pakistanis, it was once fairly difficult to determine who the lesser evil wreaking havoc in their country was – the American drone strikes that are believed to be counterproductive due to their excessive collateral damage or the continued suicide bombings on both the armed forces and the civilians carried out by the Taliban.

After the last few years of continuous attacks not only on Army checkpoints and bases but also highly populated public places such as mosques and stores that have resulted in thousands of Pakistani deaths, it's pretty clear that Pakistan conceives the Tehrik-E-Taliban Pakistan militant group as a bigger threat.

In fact, Pakistan's Army Chief General Asfaq Parvez Kayani announced last year that the war against terrorism was in fact Pakistan's war, not just one that they are fighting for America as many Pakistani's believe.

"The fight against extremism and terrorism is our own war and we are right in fighting it. Let there be no doubt about it, otherwise we'll be divided and taken towards civil war. Our minds should be clear on this," he said.

Currently, more than anything else, American drone strikes undermine and weaken the Pakistani military's effort to counter the militants and in order for the country to truly combat the Pakistani Taliban, they need America to cooperate with them rather than continue to carry out their own covert attacks.

Moreover, if America downgrades their physical involvement (i.e drone strikes) it is likely to force the Pakistani Taliban to reconsider their Jihadist stance since they're main foe will no longer be American — non-Muslims, but rather Pakistan. And surely, attacking only Pakistani forces would no longer be considered a Jihad as they would be attacking their fellow Muslims.

Pakistani Lieutenant-General Khalid Rabbani offers a solution in the same line of thought, reinstating the ineffectiveness of drone strikes, saying, "you kill five, and you're making 50 more enemies. It's very clear arithmetic. This is the arithmetic that we're trying to make them understand."

Instead, he says that American intelligence should be shared so that Pakistan can act in turn.

"They may indicate (a target), we'll pound it with the precision shooting of our F-16s … it has been done at one or two places. Why can't this model be followed — we keep on telling them (the U.S.) this is a possible model to be followed."