In what is the first public admission of a Pakistani leader past or present giving the US permission for an attack in his territory, former junta leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf has admitted to approving of such strikes on “a few occasions.”
Musharraf insisted the strikes were discussed and approved at a military level, and only “two or three times” when Pakistani special forces couldn’t get to the target in time and when it was “isolated” and had no risk of collateral damage.
Drone strikes were comparatively rare during Musharraf’s reign, and it is only in 2009, after he had been replaced by a civilian government and President Obama took office in the US, that they really became commonplace. Since 2009, hundreds of US drone attacks have occurred, killing thousands of Pakistanis.
Yet there were certainly quite a few more than “two or three” drone strikes during the last year of the Bush Administration, meaning that either Musharraf is under-reporting how many okays he gave or that the US got in the habit of launching unapproved strikes pretty quickly.
Either way, the current Pakistani government has repeatedly, publicly insisted they are opposed to any more strikes, but the US keeps doing so, insisting that they don’t believe them. The unpopularity of drone killings is likely to be a major issue in this summer’s Pakistani election, with several factions criticizing the outgoing government for not being a little more assertive in insisting the US stop its attacks.
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