The controversial issue of US drone strikes in Pakistan is about to get a lot more complicated. The long standing “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, under which the US did not publicly acknowledge their attacks, which were being carried out principally by the CIA and the Pakistani government would continue to publicly complain about them has given way to a new agreement, wherein the US military says it has begun to launch its own drone attacks into Pakistani territory.
According to officials, the military’s strikes will be coordinated under the direction of the Pakistani military, with Pakistani officers having “significant control” over the targets and the decision to launch attacks. The US will also provide surveillance information, with some limits.
President Asif Ali Zardari says his government is presently negotiating over the drones, and is demanding that the Pakistani government be given “ownership” over the drones. Pakistan has a drone program of its own, but has used them exclusively for surveillance.
The US drone attacks have been almost exclusively in the North and South Waziristan Agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The Pakistani army is reportedly planning a massive offensive into Waziristan next month. Whether this means an impending increase in US strikes or simply more direct Pakistani control over them remains to be seen.