It seems unlikely that President-elect Barack Obama as a long-time advocate of strikes into Pakistan’s tribal areas would consider reversing the Bush Administration’s relatively recent policy of unilateral air strikes. Yet the Pakistani government is hoping to convince Obama to do just that, even raising the possibility that if the strikes continue, Pakistan’s military may begin shooting down American drones.
Pakistan’s government has continually complained about the US strikes, insisting that they not only violate Pakistani sovereignty but are fueling growing unrest in the tribal areas which they target and undermining Pakistan’s own attempts to combat terror. Persistent reports claim that the Pakistani and US government have a secret understanding about the strikes, but Pakistan has publicly denied this.
Late last month, the Pakistani military engaged in tests of a short-range surface-to-air missile capable of downing the US drones as part of a broader anti-drone exercise. In spite of the military’s persistent objections to the drones, they have so far made no effort to shoot them down, engaging US aircraft only when helicopters have attempted to cross the border as part of ground engagements.