Pakistan’s Foreign Office has issued a statement today warning that they will not tolerate drone strikes inside their territory, and that they view such attacks as a violation of their national sovereignty. This is not an unusual statement for Pakistan to make, but the timing is noteworthy.
On the one hand, this comes just three days after Pakistan shot down an Iranian drone that strayed across the Balochistan border, and some see it as a warning to Iran. Yet just two days ago reports also emerged out of the US that the Trump Administration is looking to take a “hard line” toward Pakistan, including launching a new drone campaign.
Iran’s drone in Balochistan is likely much less of a deal than what the US ends up doing, as during the Obama Administration, huge numbers of US drone strikes fueled considerable unrest in the tribal areas, as well as an anti-US backlash. It also become a major political issue within Pakistan, with some rising political stars making their career on promising to end the US strikes.
The US talk of drone strikes reflects an interest in targeting the militant groups in the tribal areas that have launched some cross-border attacks into Afghanistan. Though cross-border strikes are an ongoing problem on both sides of the border, the Afghan government tends to dramatically overstate this issue, blaming Pakistan, and militants therein, for virtually every major terror attack that happens.