Predators continue to prowl North Waziristan skies

Despite the public protests by top Pakistani political leaders and General Kayani over last Thursday’s US Predator strike that killed more than 30 (or 40 depending on which report you reference) people in North Waziristan, and vague threats to shoot the aircraft down, the unmanned hunter-killers continue to fly over the tribal agency. Dawn reports:

Five to eight drones were seen flying at high altitude over different areas of the region where an unmanned aircraft attacked a tribal jirga on Thursday, killing 45 civilians.

Islamabad lodged a protest with Washington on Friday and announced withdrawal from the coming trilateral ministerial meeting on the Afghan issue.

People in Miramshah, the administrative headquarters of North Waziristan, said that drones, locally known as “Bungara”, hovered over the agency throughout the day.

“This is now a routine matter. People here can spot Bungara in the sky very easily,” said a resident of Miramshah.

And now, the Pakistan Air Force has denied that its forces have gone on high alert to repel the Predators and Reapers:

Some foreign news outlets reported on Saturday that Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had been put on high alert after Thursday’s deadly drone attack. However, a PAF spokesman, Air Commodore Tariq Qamar Yazdanie, denied such reports.

Meanwhile, Hafiz Gul Bahadar has threatened to end the peace deal with the Pakistani government. Again, Dawn reports:

“The peace agreement was made for the establishment of peace in the region but the people of North Waziristan are continuously being targeted with drone attacks and now the jirga’s are not even safe,” said Gul Bahadur’s spokesperson.

Gul Bahadur warned that if drone attacks and the series of civilians deaths did not stop he would consider ending the three-year long peace deal.

Keep in mind that Bahadar has violated the peace agreement from day one by allowing the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan (Hakeemullah Mehsud’s pan-Taliban movement, of which Bahadar is not a part), al Qaeda, and allied domestic and foreign terror groups to shelter in North Waziristan.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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17 Comments

  • Villiger says:

    Thats all fine. What is not fine is the relationship between the US and PakMil. In fact to borrow, Obama’s metaphor, it is a cancer in itself.
    The Bahadars and Mehsuds are little cogs in the wheel. See the Big Picture of the gigantic mess that is the Pak-US relationship. Feels like watching a real slow-mo movie that (has been and) is going to go on and on and on. I can imagine them sitting in the grand Strategy Room in the White House with their seat belts on watching this one. More pop-corn anyone?

  • Villiger says:

    “Keep in mind that Bahadar has violated the peace agreement from day one by allowing the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan (Hakeemullah Mehsud’s pan-Taliban movement, of which Bahadar is not a part), al Qaeda, and allied domestic and foreign terror groups to shelter in North Waziristan.”
    Keep in mind that Pakistan has violated the alliance agreement from day one by allowing the Taliban in Pakistan, al Qaeda, and allied domestic and foreign terror groups to shelter in North and South Waziristan, FATA, K-P, Baluchistan, Punjab, Sindh and Kashmir.

  • gerald says:

    If it were not for the “Bungara” the Pakistani Taliban would be at the gates of Karachi right about now.And the Generals know this.

  • Pyro says:

    Gerald, do you really think that would be the case? Because it could be, but I could imagine at some point Pakistanis would get upset and there would be a national revolt against the Taliban.

  • Charu says:

    A few Bungara at the gates of Karachi (and Lahore and Rawalpindi) would be a lot more effective ending the war in Afghanistan. And the Generals know this as well.

  • bard207 says:

    Pyro,
    —————————————————————
    Gerald, do you really think that would be the case? Because it could be, but I could imagine at some point Pakistanis would get upset and there would be a national revolt against the Taliban.
    ————————————————————–
    What would be the underlying organization – force that would lead that national revolt?
    1. The radical Mullahs?
    I doubt that since they appear to be encouraging the shift of Pakistani society to a more conservative (Pure) way of life.
    2. The political parties like the PPP and PML-N appear to be scared of the street power of the conservative religious groups. MQM and ANP don’t appeal to all ethnic groups in Pakistan, thus they would lack the reach – scope to lead a national revolt.
    3. The Pakistani Army – Military? It appears that General Kayani has already surrendered to the radicals.
    ”Kayani feared condemning Guv murder may endanger army unity”
    Pakistan”s army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who had “declined” to publicly condemn the January killing of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, had told Western envoys that there were “too many soldiers” in the ranks who “sympathised” with the assassin, a noted author has claimed.
    For its part, the army has so far failed to express regret on either Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti”s murder or Taseer”s, Lahore-based author Ahmed Rashid, also a senior journalist, wrote in ”The New York Review of Books”.
    Both Bhatti, the only Christian member of the Pakistani Cabinet, and Taseer were killed for opposing the controversial blasphemy law.
    Kayani “declined to publicly condemn Taseer”s death or even to issue a public condolence to his family. He told Western ambassadors in January in Islamabad that there were too many soldiers in the ranks who sympathise with the killer,” Rashid wrote.
    The army chief showed the envoys “a scrapbook of photographs of Taseer”s killer being hailed as a hero by fellow police officers. Any public statement, he hinted, could endanger the army”s unity,” Rashid said.
    Behind this silence lies “something more sinister,” he wrote. “For decades the army and the ISI have controlled the extremist groups, arming and training them in exchange for their continuing to serve as proxy forces in Afghanistan and Kashmir. But in recent years, the army has lost control of them and they are striking targets of their own.”
    “Yet the army has refused to help crack down on its rogue proteges despite the fact that extremists have increasingly attacked the army and the ISI itself,” Rashid said.
    This is all the more ominous in view of the resources the military commands: half a million men, another half a million reserves, 110 nuclear arms, according to US media estimates, and one of the largest intelligence agencies in the world, the ISI, which has an estimated 100,000 employees, he noted.
    “If the army has now surrendered any willingness to take on the extremists, the political establishment had already given up long ago,” Rashid wrote.
    A national revolt against the Taliban – Conservative religious in Pakistan would require leadership and I am having difficulty identifying which persons – political groups are brave enough to form that leadership.

  • Mr. Wold says:

    Pyro,
    I thought the same thing when B. Bhutto was shot and bombed. But since that didn’t push the public into fighting the militancy; there is little in the Pak mindset to fight tribal disputes. Accepting that a state, instead of a tribe, can tell you what you can or should do is VERY difficult to understand if you are working in a field. And mostly, when an elder is replaced, it is by someone waiting for their chance at power, not because they are the wisest, but oldest (and usually most shy, early indiscretion can get you killed). And this can lead many tribes to “avenge” a former relative, instead of “letting go” or have “bygones be bygones” there is a constant reminder to “correct” a wrong from the past. The revolt against the Taliban will only occur when tribes can start “avenging” the deaths of “spies” and local leaders at the hands of the outsiders. This will happen when the fed-up tribes start to take these compounds away from the Taliban once they are bombed (and this can only happen with US/ISAF/ and eventually ISI assistance). Their safe-houses should become ours when they are hit. Drug-war 101.

  • Paul D says:

    The problem with Afghanistan is Pakistan!
    We are fighting a proxy war in Afghanistan Versus Pakistan the same way we are fighting a proxy war versus Iran in Iraq.
    The main enemy is the Pak army full of Islamists post President Zia and the madrasses/Religious parties funded/supported by Saudi.AKA the Mullah military alliance!Most of Pak Army are Punjabi or Pashtun!
    The Iran Govt-Mullah alliance is another enemy we must get rid of in this war of terror.
    Above are the top 2 Islamist movements we must topple.
    Also to keep eye on is the Salafis, Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia mosques spreading poison worldwide!

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Y’all might want to keep this in mind when debating Pyro. He is playing you. Here’s how I know. I’ve deleted several comments by Pyro (and Pyromagnet, who is the same person) like the following, which was in response to Threat Matrix post on Shabaab recruiting children for jihad:

    This is all within the bounds of war. This is completely warranted in Islam, a cleric has recently told me.

    LONG live JIHAD and MUJAHIDEEN!!!!

    So Pyro (and Pyromagnet) isn’t being honest with you when he is posting comments posing questions. It is pretty clear where he stands on the Taliban, AQ, Shabaab, etc.

  • Pyro says:

    Bill, I respect you very much as a commentator and military blogger, but I am a Muslim and I live with a tribesmen from North Waziristan, a land filled with jihadi militants. So do not blame me for following my faith and repeating what is around me all the time: jihadi influence.
    I am playing nobody Bill. I truly believe in everything I post. I hope you will post this comment so I can tell people what I think and I think you will because you are an honest man and I appreciate that.

  • James says:

    @Villiger,
    See the Big Picture of the gigantic mess that is the Pak-US relationship. Feels like watching a real slow-mo movie that (has been and) is going to go on and on and on.
    Read more: //www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2011/03/predators_continue_to_prowl_no.php#comments#ixzz1HIVA2KAj
    Maybe a more apt analogy of the Pak/US relationship would be like watching a train wreck in slow motion.
    As long as they’ve got the right suckers in DC thinking they are fighting their phantom enemy AQ, they figure they can keep riding the “gravy train” of US economic/military aid.
    When will they wake up to the harsh reality of the situation at hand.
    I say let the failed state of Pakistan suffer the same fate as that of the former Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. I say get them or allow them to literally turn against and destroy each other.

  • bard207 says:

    Bill,
    Many here are already used to that type of behavior by Pro Pakistan – Pro Jihad supporters on your web site, so that revelation is no surprise to me.
    In recent years, I have seen encouragement on Pro Pakistan web sites for its members – participants to get out on the Internet and do some Public Relations for their positions – POV.
    Far too often, they will get involved in a Conversation without anticipating the counter arguments that will shortly follow. Rather than skillfully arguing their position, they either strike off on a tangent or completely abandon the discussion.
    Starting a Public Relations campaign, but lacking interest in sustained discussions does not help in getting skeptics (such as myself) to change our viewpoints on the current situation with the Taliban, Pakistan’s steady disintegration as a country and related topics.

  • Villiger says:

    Well guys, i just want to recount where this Dr Pyro and Mr Magnet first crept in. Here it is:
    Posted by Paul at March 14, 2011 9:26 PM ET:
    For every suicide bomber they send to the tribal regions and kill innocent people and for every girls school that they destroy we should send 10 drones.
    Posted by Pyromagnet at March 15, 2011 12:25 AM ET:
    Paul, how racist are you? That is completely pointless and self defeating in a revenge oriented, Muslim society. The mujahideen THIRST for revenge every day.
    Read more: //www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2011/03/us_predators_strike_20.php#comments#ixzz1HLWm1vjU
    So, first i want to agree TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY with Paul.
    Second, i agreed completely with JT then who showed up his confusion:
    Posted by JT at March 15, 2011 6:38 PM ET:
    pyro,
    You and I may disagree with what Paul says regarding its effectiveness or even appropriateness, but that does not make him a racist.
    For example: Anyone can disagree with the President and even call him stupid, like critics of all presidents have done. That doesn’t make the critics racists.

    So pyro, you don’t want to be blamed, including for your fellow innocent muslims being slaughtered. I won’t. I only hope that when you meet your 72 virgins they are of the right sex and not dressed in suicide vests, so that you are not too disappointed.
    And now please stop trolling your ‘tribesman’ around the internet.

  • Pyro says:

    I am not pro Pakistani. My tribesmen is a very good person and he goes with me to the mosque. But he can not speak good English and so he is limited in his communication.
    But I am not pro Pakistan. Maybe I would be if they went on a jihad. But jihad is a sacred duty that an individual is obligated to fulfill, I cannot deny my faith…..
    Just clearing some things up.
    And Bill, you say you know where I stand on the Taliban and Al Qaeda, but I already said that I am part of a mosque and Islamic sect that has nothing to do with Al Qaeda or Taliban. I hope people know this.

  • Charu says:

    Could Pyro be connected to the ISI-run Sarpatese Management for media manipulation?
    For a good chuckle, see Cafe Pyala’s expose on the many ways that the ISI propagandizes on the internet:
    //cafepyala.blogspot.com/2010/11/connecting-dots.html

  • Pyro says:

    Villiger,
    I am glad you have so much time to research me and my pseudonym around the Internet.
    I am not a Pakistani, I am Italian and English. I live in Canada, and YES I have a friend who is a tribesmen!!!
    I’m not connected to any intelligence agencies, and it is laughable and border line pathetic that you go into so much research and get so serious about someone whom you not only don’t know in real life, but barely known online too.
    I know you will reply to this comment with more of your absolutely ridiculous assertions, and you might even throw in some insults too. I bet in your next post, I will visibly be able to tell how mad you are.
    But just know that I am every bit as real as I say I am and if you want to come down to the mosque to debate/let me prove my “realness”, then be my guest. This is not a threat but an open challenge against baseless assertions against my character and who I am. Showing you the truth is far better than sitting on a computer and speculating about some random guy.
    And yes: I WOULD support the ISI if they openly announced a global JIHAD. Because that is what us as Muslims are aching for across the world today, and we will get it by the grace of Allah(swt).

  • Pyro says:

    As for ‘trolling” my tribesman around the Internet, well… who made you the king of the Internet Archives? This website is the only place I have ever mentioned him, because it is the only place TO mention him in the appropriate context (drone strikes, NWA situation, etc).
    But hopefully, with the right talking to, and right material for him to read, he will become MUJAHIDEEN as well.

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