New reports suggest that among the topics of a recent meeting between Army Chief of Staff Gen. Parvez Kayani and Pakistan’s incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif included a discussion of US drone strikes, and an agreement by the two to more forcefully “counter” the ongoing attacks.
The promise comes in the context of Sharif running on a platform that included ending the strikes, which have proven hugely unpopular inside Pakistan and have sparked several major anti-US protests over the past few years.
Though the outgoing PPP government made the occasional speech criticizing the drones, they were seen to be in the Obama Administration’s pocket, and the US openly mocked those statements, saying they believed they had “tacit” permission from Pakistan to keep going.
With that obviously gone now, President Obama’s promise to “limit” his drone program in a speech today sounds less like a policy decision and more like a recognition of the reality of the situation. Even a “limited” drone policy may run afoul of the incoming Pakistani government, though ending the years of launching multiple attacks any given week may keep the issue out of the headlines in Pakistan, at least for a time.