Updated 9/18 10:35 AM EST
US ties with Pakistan took another hit today after US drones launched yet another attack in the South Waziristan Agency, killing seven and injuring three others. Pakistani Prime Minister Raza Gilani condemned the strike, which is just the latest incident of a reported US strategy to escalate attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas, a strategy which CIA Director Michael Hayden said was aimed at provoking a reaction from militant groups.
And while negative reactions from Pakistan’s government and military are nothing new the latest attack, coming as it did just hours after Admiral Mullen promised that the US would respect Pakistan’s sovereignty, has further undermined American credibility in the nation. Pakistani Defense Minister Ahmad Mukthar said Admiral Mullen had appeared “very understanding” during their meeting, and that the latest air strikes “have come as a surprise”.
In fact one of South Waziristan’s tribes, the same Ahmadzai Wazir tribe which late last week threatened to abandon a peace deal with Pakistan’s government if it did not end the US attacks, held a jirga today in Wana. It was decided that if the United States doesn’t halt its strikes in the region, the well-armed tribesmen will take up arms against the American forces, including crossing into Afghanistan.
Perplexingly, however, Reuters quotes an anonymous senior Pakistani official who claims that the US attack came as the result of “intelligence coordination”. Pakistan’s intelligence gathering apparatus is large and complicated, with at least half a dozen largely independent agencies, and the Reuters quote does not make it clear which of these agencies allegedly cooperated with the US. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Mehmoud Qureshi has denied that his government was informed prior to the US attack. Given the condemnations from several high ranking Pakistani officials and the potential fallout of the Wazir jirga’s announcement, any agency’s complicity in the attack is sure to be a controversial issue in its aftermath.