AntiWar.com & The Dawn – 2013-11-21 00:55:26
US Drone Attacks Pakistani Religious School, Killing Eight
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(November 20, 2013) — The US breaks its promises so quick with Pakistan it’s scarcely worth mentioning them in the first place. Just hours after a promise not to launch any more drone strikes against Pakistan for the duration of their peace talks with the Taliban, a US drone pounded a religious school in Hangu.
The attack killed eight people, including three teachers and five students. A number of others were wounded in the attack, and drones continued to loom overhead after the attack.
It’s noteworthy for a lot of reasons, and not just that it broke yet another promise. Hangu is not in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), where US drone strikes have almost exclusively hit, but is in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwah (KP) Province. Hitting a proper province is much more controversial within Pakistan, and a major backlash is expected on a national level.
But that may pale in comparison to the backlash on a provincial level, as the KP Province is ruled by Pakistani Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI), an anti-drone party ruled by Imran Khan which had threatened to blockade the NATO supply route through its province into occupied Afghanistan if the drone strikes didn’t end. They gave an initial deadline of November 20… the day of the latest attack, so it will likely be interpreted locally as timed explicitly to spite them.
The deadline had been moved back to November 23 but the attack is almost certain to spark an enormous response, and will oblige the PTI to at least attempt such a blockade to retain its credibility. It will also add to pressure on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has been facing growing criticism for his inability to stop the strikes, a key promise of his campaign.
US Promises Again: No Drone Strikes Against Pakistan During Talks
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(November 20, 2013) — Just weeks after sabotaging the Pakistani government’s peace talks with their local Taliban with a drone strike assassination of Hakimullah Mehsud, the Obama Administration has promised the government they won’t carry out any more attacks during the talks.
That would be a pretty good reassurance, if the US hadn’t already given the exact same promise to Pakistan’s Shahbaz Sharif just days before that drone strike.
Hakimullah Mehsud was assassinated literally 24 hours before scheduled talks with the Pakistani government, and that assassination reportedly came as the result of the US military capturing an Afghan government convoy and abducting a Taliban official familiar with the talks, who had agreed to help the Afghan government organize their own.
The US promise means much less this time around, not only because its reliability is in doubt, but the talks themselves seem to be more or less dead at this point.
At Least Eight Killed in Drone Strike on Hangu Seminary
Zahir Shah Sherazi / The Dawn
PESHAWAR (November 21, 2013) — A US-led drone strike in Tal area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Hangu district killed at least eight persons and injured five others early on Thursday. The drone fired three missiles targeting a seminary near Degree college in Tehsil Tal, which lies within the settled areas of the province.
District Police Officer (DPO) Iftikhar Ahmed said that the strike had left five people dead, and six others injured. Other sources claimed that the death-toll had reached eight.
Those killed in the attack included three teachers and five pupils of the seminary. The teachers were identified as Abdul Rehman, Maulvi Ahmed Jan and Mufti Hamidullah Haqqanni.
Drones continued to hover above the area after the incident, locals reported.
Some sources claimed that the clerics of the seminary were believed to be affiliates of the Taliban’s Haqqani Network.
The last drone strike in the country was conducted on November 1 which had killed the then chief of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Hakimullah Mehsud, in North Waziristan tribal region.
This was the first attack by the US to occur outside Pakistan’s remote tribal region, after the anti-drone Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) came into power in the province and could increase tension between Islamabad and Washington.
The only other drone strike in the settled areas of the KP was carried out in Bannu district a few years ago.
The attack comes a day after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz said while briefing the Senate Committee that the United States had assured Pakistan of not conducting drone strikes targeting the leaders of TTP if dialogue began between the two (Taliban and Pakistan government).
In a separate incident a suicide bomber reportedly blew himself up injuring 17 persons near the Custom House at the Torkham border region with Afghanistan.
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