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Errant Drone Attacks Spur Militants in Pakistan

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Analysis by Gareth Porter

15 Apr 09 | IPS

The U.S. programme of drone aircraft strikes against higher-ranking officials of al Qaeda and allied militant organisations, which has been touted by proponents as having eliminated nine of the 20 top al Qaeda leaders, is actually weakening Pakistan’s defence against the insurgency of the Islamic militants there by killing large numbers of civilians based on faulty intelligence and discrediting the Pakistani military, according to data from the Pakistani government and interviews with senior analysts.

Some evidence indicates, moreover, that the top officials in the Barack Obama administration now see the programme more as an incentive for the Pakistani military to take a more aggressive posture toward the militants rather than as an effective tool against the insurgents.

Although the strikes have been sold to the U.S. public as a way to weaken and disrupt al Qaeda, which is an explicitly counter-terrorist objective, al Qaeda is not actually the main threat to U.S. security emanating from Pakistan, according to some analysts. The real threat comes from the broader, rapidly growing insurgency of Islamic militants against the shaky Pakistani government and military, they observe, and the drone strikes are a strategically inappropriate approach to that problem.

“Al Qaeda has very little to do with the militancy in the tribal areas of Pakistan,” said Marvin Weinbaum, former Afghanistan and Pakistan analyst at the Bureau of Intelligence Research at the U.S. Department of State and now scholar-in-residence at the Middle East Institute. >>>

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Written by Editors

16 April 2009 at 3:57 pm

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