The Obama Administration’s position on drone strikes in Pakistan continues to be puzzling. A month-long span without a single strike does not appear to have been an accident, but rather came after Pakistan asked them to “show restraint” for the sake of peace talks.
“That’s what they asked for and we didn’t tell them no,” noted one US official, though the administration insists that it will still carry out strikes against targets “as they become available.”
The last time the Pakistani government had peace talks lined up with the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the US foiled those talks less than 24-hours in advance by assassinating TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud. The US has also assured Pakistan of its intention to show restraint back then.
Unspoken in this is that the assassination of Mehsud, and a follow-up attack on a religious school have sparked massive protests in northern Pakistan, and a blockade of NATO supplies. It may be the US is trying to lay low to get that blockade lifted.
New peace talks were supposed to be held today, and instead of the US it was the Pakistani government itself mucking things up, as the TTP negotiators arrived to an empty room. The government’s negotiators no-showed at the last minute for no apparent reason, saying they weren’t clear on if the TTP’s appointed negotiators had a real mandate to speak for the TTP.
By the evening, the government said it was willing to attend the talks, but the TTP guys had already left after being told no one would meet with them. Talks are now being scheduled for tomorrow, but it remains to be seen if they will happen.
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