Pakistani Officials Knew of, Endorsed US Drone Strikes

Credit: USAF Museum/wikimediaCredit: USAF Museum/wikimediaToday it was reported that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif urged Obama to end drone strikes in Pakistan during a meeting in the Oval Office yesterday.

According to data from The New America Foundation, the U.S. has carried out hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, which have resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, hundreds of whom have been civilians.

Unsurprisingly, the American drone program is very unpopular in Pakistan and elsewhere around the world.

Sharif's comments to Obama were made on the same day The Washington Post reported that some senior Pakistani officials knew of and endorsed American drones strikes from late 2007 to late 2011.

From The Washington Post:

Despite repeatedly denouncing the CIA’s drone campaign, top officials in Pakistan’s government have for years secretly endorsed the program and routinely received classified briefings on strikes and casualty counts, according to top-secret CIA documents and Pakistani diplomatic memos obtained by The Washington Post.

The files describe dozens of drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal region and include maps as well as before-and-after aerial photos of targeted compounds over a four-year stretch from late 2007 to late 2011 in which the campaign intensified dramatically.

As well as highlighting that some Pakistani officials knew of and endorsed drone strikes The Washington Post’s reporting also points out the level of distrust that has affected the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan:

Some files describe tense meetings in which senior U.S. officials, including then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, confront their Pakistani counterparts with U.S. intelligence purporting to show Pakistan’s ties to militant groups involved in attacks on American forces, a charge that Islamabad has consistently denied.

In one case, Clinton cited “cell phones and written material from dead bodies that point all fingers” at a militant group based in Pakistan, according to a Pakistani diplomatic cable dated Sept. 20, 2011. “The U.S. had intelligence proving ISI was involved with these groups,” she is cited as saying, referring to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

One of the most interesting parts of the Washington Post's report is the section highlighting that the U.S. was not solely responsible for the selection of all drone targets in Pakistan between late 2007 and late 2011:

Several documents refer to a direct Pakistani role in the selection of targets. A 2010 entry, for example, describes hitting a location “at the request of your government.” Another from that year refers to a “network of locations associated with a joint CIA-ISI targeting effort.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, former Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has denied that he approved of any drone strikes while he was in office, despite the fact that a cable from 2008 released by Wikileaks includes Gilani saying the following about drone strikes, “I don't care if they do it as long as they get the right people. We'll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it.”

It is important to note that Sharif began his most recent term as prime minister last July, after the events reported on by The Washington Post took place. Nonetheless, the recent news will no doubt prompt Sharif to make his opposition to drone strikes more vocal, especially given the unpopularity of the strikes in Pakistan. 

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  • Swiss Servator, Climb Eiger!||

    Big surprise - Yemen and Pakistan use our drones as a club against "the right people", and President Disposition Matrix gets more kills.

    Appalling.

  • ||

    Why so cynical? I'm sure Pakistani TOP MEN chose the targets with no considerations beyond the safety and wellbeing of Pakistani children.

  • John||

    No shit. It is almost as if the Pakistanis want these people dead too or something. Next you are going to tell me that these strikes might have hit something besides birthday parties and weddings? You mean there are dangerous people in Pakistan? No way. I don't believe it.

  • Cytotoxic||

    BROWN BABIEZ

  • Calidissident||

    ^what SSCE said

  • John||

    Neither one of us have any idea whether these were the right people or not. But this information does put an end to the idiotic idea that these strikes were some kind of an infringement on Pakistani sovereignty. The Pakistani government was totally on board with these things. They just couldn't admit it publicly. Of course anyone with any clue and wasn't just trolling for an argument already knew that.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I am pretty sure that the children killed were not the right people.

  • sarcasmic||

    Well they should have thought about it before having terrorists for parents!

  • Cytotoxic||

    FER THE CHILDRUNZ: not just for statists!

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    We are not talking about restricting someone's liberty 'fer the childrunz' in some indirect way, we are talking about actually murdering children.

  • Cytotoxic||

    The people the USG is morally obligated want to reduce our liberty, so not killing them FER THE CHILDRUNZ works out to the same calculus.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I do not like to do calculus with the lives of children.

  • Loki||

    Find the area under the curve representing the pile of dead children.

  • ||

    Personally, I don't give a shit about Pakistan's sovereignty in the wider context -- I give a shit about right and wrong, and what we're losing by waging this perpetual conflict.

    Let them fester in their shit-strewn caves in these third-world pits. Who fucking cares?

  • Cytotoxic||

    I care because they want to hurt for our freedoms.

  • ||

    Let them try. I dare them to. See how many hours it takes for our response to make their homelands disintegrate in a storm of thermonuclear fire.

    And if we're not talking about whole nation-states here, nobody's powerful enough to threaten our freedoms, so foreign adventurism is bullshit. Period.

  • Cytotoxic||

    See how many hours it takes for our response to make their homelands disintegrate in a storm of thermonuclear fire.

    I'm guessing that if the Pakistani Taliban guy who tried to bomb Times Square had been succussful, the number of hours you asked for would be INFINITE. We are dealing with small but lethal attacks that require surveillance and suppression on our end. Deterrence does not work with the 72 Virgins Club.

  • ||

    Performing surveillance and suppression upon terrorist cells = the pervasive foreign adventurism of today?

    Not even in the same galactic cluster.

  • Cytotoxic||

    There would be changes but blowing up The Bad Guys will always be what we do.

  • Calidissident||

    The TS bomber wasn't a part of the Taliban.

  • Loki||

    small but lethal attacks that require surveillance and suppression on our end.

    ...and I suppose the fact that those tools of "surveillance and suppression" have been turned on our own citizens is just hunky dory as far as your concerned?

    Kindly eat shit and die.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    With all due respect I think that is nonsense. I do not buy that people wake up and focus on killing people half a world away because those latter people are seen as decadently free. To the extent that anyone does that it is because they see us as interfering in their world, bringing our freedoms to them in some way.

    Compared to Pakistan Costa Rica is quite free, but I do not think Pakistani Pashtun shepherds wake up burning with a desire to kill them.

  • Cytotoxic||

    With all due respect I think that is nonsense. I do not buy that people wake up and focus on killing people half a world away because those latter people are seen as decadently free.

    That would be knews to the Danish cartoonists who were targeted by AQ or the author of 'Satanic Verses'. Don't worry BCE I don't expect people like you to have the curiousity required to actually know stuff contradicting your worldview.

  • ||

    I've no doubt those animals hate that we're free -- our culture -- rabidly, but that doesn't mean much of the current clusterfuck isn't our own fault. I don't understand why it has to be one or the other.

  • Cytotoxic||

    It's our fault for not terminating States That Sponsor Terrorism. Like invading Iran in 1980.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I guess your answer to Hendrix's question is 'absolutely everything!'

  • Fluffy||

    Cyto, you're a vastly bigger threat to my freedom than anyone in Pakistan.

    I suppose that means you have no objection to my slitting your fucking throat?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Those are more direct provocations than simply 'our freedoms.' Besides, I would be willing to bet we have been the target of more terrorist attacks based on our actions than some diffuse hatred of our culture.

  • Loki||

    What freedoms? Our own fucking government has done a pretty bang up job of taking away our freedoms. On the plus side, I guess third world asshats will stop trying to "hurt [us] for our freedoms" any day now. You know, considering we don't have many left.

  • Calidissident||

    Did you actually read SSCE's comment? I'm pretty sure "Big Surprise" was sarcasm. I was agreeing with his comment.

  • Fluffy||

    The problem is that the intimate involvement of the Pakistani government in the drone strikes creates the same problem we have in Yemen:

    It dramatically decreases my confidence that we're killing people who are the enemy of the US in any way. Because it makes me pretty sure we're just killing whoever the central governments of Yemen and Pakistan think they can't control.

    And the problem is that the central governments of Yemen and Pakistan are uniformly scumbags who don't deserve to rule, and anyone in Yemen or Pakistan who opposes their rule are right to do so.

    So we're being told we're on this big moral crusade against the enemies of freedom, and instead what we're probably really doing is intervening in what amounts to a civil war against a pair of real shitbag governments.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    At least someone knows which side their bread is buttered on.

  • PapayaSF||

    At this point I think the best idea would be to end the drone strikes, but keep up the surveillance in those areas. Then, after any terror attack, zap a few more terrorists. That would help make it clear to everyone that the drone strikes are in response to terror attacks, and not just an ongoing thing.

  • ||

    Abort all operations overseas and institute a strict policy of military isolationism, and reserve the might of history's greatest army for grinding to absolute dust genuine aggressors upon our borders.

    It's never going to happen, though, is it?

  • Cytotoxic||

    A great model for a 100 years ago or so. Today there are embassies to protect.

  • ||

    Shut the embassies.

  • Cytotoxic||

    We kind of need those.

  • ||

    Why?

  • The Last American Hero||

    To torture suspected terrorists and serve as a warehouse for the arms we're going to sell to AQ affiliates in Syria. Please try to keep up.

  • ||

    I wasn't kidding, though. I honestly want someone to articulate to me why we need embassy compounds overseas.

  • Fluffy||

    We had embassies 100 years ago, too.

    Once again you just can't evade the fact that when Britain and France were the imperial powers of the day, lots of brown people wanted to kill Englishmen, Scots and Frenchies...but just about nobody but Injuns and Pancho Villa wanted to kill Americans.

    What changed between 1914 and now?

    They should have REALLY hated our freedom back in 1913.

  • sarcasmic||

    'I watched him bleed to death' Drone operator reveals he is haunted after years of watching grisly aftermath of strikes

    Brandon Bryant left with post traumatic stress disorder after six years of watching horrific injuries and deaths caused by strikes
    Experiences shared as human rights groups say drone use is a war crime


    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new.....rikes.html

    He also remains haunted by the image of a small figure running towards a building he had just aimed at in Afghanistan.

    Mr Bryant was convinced the figure was a child, but his superiors told him it was a dog. He claims that in the final report of the strike, neither a child or dog was mentioned.

    His experiences left Mr Bryant 'feeling like a sociopath', he said.

    'I don’t feel like I can really interact with that average, everyday person. I get too frustrated, because A) they don't realize what's going on over there. And B) they don't care.'
  • ||

    Politicians really are animals.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    -Mr Bryant was convinced the figure was a child, but his superiors told him it was a dog.

    See, now he's quite qualified to be a police officer!

  • ||

    Especially NYPD.

  • sarcasmic||

    He was remorseful. That completely disqualifies him for law enforcement.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Good point. A guy like that is too likely to freeze up at a critical moment, like when a child plays with a BB gun or a dog barks at one of his fellow officers.

  • sarcasmic||

    Oh I'm sure he'd follow through on his training. But then he'd feel bad afterwards. That is unbecoming of a police officer.

  • PapayaSF||

    human rights groups say drone use is a war crime

    Ach, bullshit. No more than "bombers" or "bullets" are war crimes. It all depends on how you use them.

  • ||

    Precisely. Don't forger that many of these so-called "human rights campaigners" are just anti-American pinkos exhibiting their ideological discontent.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I do think there are weapons and/or techniques that in their use make it so likely an actual war crime will occur that their use can be considered generally wrong.

  • PapayaSF||

    Sure, but the more precise the weapon, the better, and a drone-launched missile is very precise, compared to dropping a bunch of bombs from a B-52, or marching in with a bunch of troops.

  • Aresen||

    So, grandstanding US politicians have their counterparts in Pakistan.

    Who knew?

  • Anomalous||

    Sharif don't like it.

  • Loki||

    Several documents refer to a direct Pakistani role in the selection of targets. A 2010 entry, for example, describes hitting a location “at the request of your government.”

    I'm sure none of those targets were just opponents of the Pakistani regime. Surely our TOP MEN weren't allowing themselves to be used to take out the Pakistani equivilent of the Tea Party. Surely...

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