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Controversial Drone Attacks Avoid Big Name Targets

Pakistan: The Pakistani Taliban confirmed on Thursday that Wali ur Rehman Mehsud was killed by a US drone attack.

Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan told press, "I confirm the martyrdom of Wali ur Rehman Mehsud in a drone strike on Wednesday. We are shocked at the martyrdom of our leader but are proud of his sacrifices."

"We had sincerely offered peace dialogue to the government but we strongly believe that the government has a role to play in the drone strikes."

He said the Taliban consider the Pakistani government fully responsible for drone strikes in the region, because the government is passing information to the United States.

Comment: For now the talks are dead and the price/incentive package for future talks has just risen for the Pakistan government.

NightWatch received several insightful feedback comments on this topic. One point is that peace talks were unlikely to go anywhere so there is no harm done by the drone attack.

A second point is that Pakistan's air force and army have the weapons to shoot down drones but have never done so. Their inaction belies official public outrage over violations of sovereignty. If the nation's leaders wanted to stop the drone attacks, they have had the military means to do so for years. The public denunciations, therefore, are for the masses and not the real position of successive governments.

The US position is that it has the permission of the Pakistani government for drone attacks, which is evidenced by shared intelligence and the permissive air environment.

NightWatch takes no sides, but notes a few facts.  Repeated polls in Pakistan have found that the majority of Pakistanis consider the US the enemy of Pakistan largely because of the drone attacks. The price of the drone attacks is the alienation of most of a nation, especially a generation of Pakistani youth.

No drone attacks have ever been directed against Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar and his cohorts who have resided in Quetta or Karachi since late 2001. Omar still directs the Afghan Taliban without fear of a US drone attack or commando raid. 

Drone attacks against the Haqqanis and Hekmatyar have not prevented them from executing sensational attacks in Kabul.

Iraq: Comment: Today, 30 May, was another bloody day in Iraq. Sectarian attacks killed 33 more people.

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