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Jan 27th, 2009

Pakistanis Outraged Over Continued Drone Attacks

Image: Pakistani Islamist party Jamat-e-Islami protests
Supporters of the Pakistani Islamist party Jamat-e-Islami protest U.S. drone attacks in Karachi on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009. (Photo credit: Athar Hussain / Reuters)

By Carol Grisanti and Mushtaq Yusufzai

World Blog
January 26, 2009


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The message from Washington to Pakistan was clear: there is no change in U.S. policy when it comes to going after al-Qaida and Taliban targets in Pakistan’s lawless border areas. After all, Barack Obama warned during his presidential campaign that America must go after terrorist targets if Pakistan did not act first.

It should not have been a surprise, then, to Pakistanis when on Friday night, five missiles from remotely piloted Predator drones struck targets in the lawless tribal areas of North and South Waziristan — but it was.

The twin attacks killed 22 people, including some foreign militants, but also many civilians.

Who’s in charge?

The Pakistan government quickly voiced its outrage. “These attacks can affect Pakistan’s cooperation in the war on terror,” Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari told U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson the following day.

The foreign ministry followed up with a terse statement expressing “the sincere hope that the United States will review its policy.” And Pakistan’s Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani — already on record promising the country there would be no more drone attacks once Obama became president — was embarrassed. …

The anger now threatens to undermine the authority of the fledgling civilian government in Islamabad, which after one year in office, is still struggling to take control of rising militancy in the country.

Western security analysts argue that the attacks are necessary because the border areas are lawless and under the control of Taliban and al-Qaida militants — not the Pakistani government. …

Stepping up attacks

There have been 38 drone attacks in Pakistan since August — mostly in North and South Waziristan — more than three times as many as during the previous year. …

U.S. officials point to the success of such attacks in killing many senior al-Qaida leaders, including Khalid Habib, the groups deputy chief of operations, and Rashid Rauf, the alleged mastermind of a 2006 plot to blow up airliners. …

Spawning more militants

Mohammed Wali, a farmer in Mirali, said that the drone attacks are causing some to join the militants.

“My neighbor was so furious when a drone killed his mother, two sisters and his 7-year-old brother last September that he filled his car with explosives and rammed it into a Pakistani army convoy,” he said. “He had to avenge the death of his loved ones,” Wali added. Twelve people, including ten Pakistani soldiers were killed. …

As thousands attended the funerals for the people killed in Friday’s drone attacks, tribal elders said that their great hopes that Obama would stop the attacks have been dashed.

“We are very disappointed now,” said Malik Taj Mohammed, a chief in South Waziristan. “Why doesn’t President Obama understand that the problems we face are poverty and lack of development in our lands and spend his money trying to help us rather than kill us,” he said.


Related report

Thinking small in Afghanistan (AP, Jan. 26, 2009) – President Barack Obama probably will scale back U.S. ambitions for troubled Afghanistan to redefine victory in a war that his closest military and foreign affairs advisers say cannot be won on the battlefield. … Full story


U.S. Military Deaths in Iraq 

As of Monday, Jan. 26, 2009, at least 4,236 members of the U.S. military had died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. …

The latest deaths reported by the military:

  • Four soldiers died Monday when two U.S. helicopters crashed in northern Iraq.

The latest identification reported by the military:

Army Sgt. Kyle J. Harrington, 24, Swansea, Mass., died Jan. 24, 2009 in Basra, Iraq, of injuries sustained from a non-hostile accident in his unit motor pool. He was assigned to the 542nd Maintenance Company, 80th Ordnance Battalion, 593rd Sustainment Brigade, Fort Lewis, Wash. [Harrington’s wife, Faith, told The News Tribune of Tacoma she was told at Fort Lewis that he was fatally hit by a forklift. He leaves two children, 5-year-old Joshua and 2-year-old Kaylee.]

Update: Sgt. Harrington’s sister Elizabeth Harrington told The Herald News of Fall River, Mass., that someone broke into the apartment she shares with her mother and took a laptop containing dozens of pictures, videos, and other memories of her brother that had not been printed or backed up on disc. The theft occurred almost one year to the day after his death.

Related links:

Iraq Casualties

Afghanistan Casualties


Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq on Jan. 25, 2009, as reported by Reuters.

BAQUBA – A bomber detonated an explosive device strapped to a bicycle near an office of the Sunni Arab Islamic Party in Baquba, 40 miles north of Baghdad, police said. Five civilians were wounded in the blast and the attacker was shot dead by police as a he fled the scene.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb struck a police patrol in west Baghdad’s Mansour district, wounding 11 policemen, three seriously, police said.

MOSUL – Police said they discovered an unidentified decapitated body in Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad.



Expect 1,000-Year Cimate Impacts, Experts Say

Study: Stopping emissions won’t prevent decreased rainfall, higher seas


Vital Signs of a Warming World
The science, impacts and scenarios of climate shifts


1/28/09 Update

If warming is to last 1,000 years, why cut emissions? Because doing nothing would mean even more dire consequences, scientists argue. … Full story

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