Pakistan: Whose Drone is it Anyway?

Following up on yesterday’s myriad of reports regarding what did or didn’t happen to a US Predator Drone near the South Waziristan border, Pakistan’s military has officially admitted to recovering the wreckage of a downed US drone near the border which suffered a malfunction and crashed, finally putting to rest speculation about the incident.

Or perhaps not. Residents still insist the plane was shot down by tribesmen rather than crashing on its own. And though yesterday a US defense official denied that any drones were missing, today a military spokesman conceded that a drone did in fact go down. However, he maintained that the drone crashed in Paktika province, and not close to the Pakistan border. He also said the US recovered the downed craft “immediately.”

So the US claims to have recovered its lost drone, and Pakistan also has recovered another drone. Whose is it? Pakistani TV showed footage of the wreckage, and the footage is apparently consistent with an American Predator Drone. But the part shown has been sold to other countries, so its also possible the drone belonged to the British or some other nation.

US attacks in Pakistan have increased this month amid reports of a new US strategy, and CIA Director Michael Hayden suggested last week that the strikes were an attempt to “tickle” militant groups into reactions in the hope of learning something. Pakistan has pressed the US government to stop unilateral strikes on its territory.

And the mysterious group which claimed credit for Saturday’s suicide bombing in Islamabad has issued a new message in which it threatens to target other Pakistanis who cooperate with “Americans and NATO crusaders.” This message, like the previous one, was delivered to the media over the phone, and in English. Pakistani officials said the preliminary report pointed to Waziristan, the target of America’s recent strikes.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.