In a story published on February 4, the Post reported that in order to give the government of Pakistan time to negotiate peace with the Pakistani Taliban, the Obama administration will dial down the drone strikes in the country that has been the target of at least 354 strikes by the deadly unmanned vehicles.
The Post added, however, that the administration would continue to conduct strikes “against senior al-Qaeda targets, if they become available, and move to thwart any direct, imminent threat to U.S. persons.”
Although it has been nine months since the president announced it and most people seemed to have forgotten it, this limited scope for drone assaults was the standard established by President Obama in May 2013 during a speech at the National Defense University.
Even at that time, Pakistani media described the president’s promises to rein in the rain of missiles fired from U.S. drones as too little too late.
The government of Islamabad is trying, seemingly successfully, to remove this major obstacle in the road to peace with the Pakistani Taliban.
Peace talks have been underway for just over a month now, as reported by The New American’s Warren Mass:
Negotiations between the Pakistani government and representatives of the Pakistan Taliban (TTP, which stands for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) began on January 6 in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. The talks are aimed at resolving the ongoing insurgency between the TTP — an umbrella organization of Islamic militants based in Pakistan’s northwestern Federally Administered Tribal Areas — and the government.
Irfan Siddiqui, a government negotiator chosen by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, sent a text message reading “Talks on,” and described the atmosphere as “cordial and friendly.”
AP reported that Sharif made an announcement last month that his government intended to pursue negotiations and named a four-member team led by Saddiqui, a journalist, and one of his own advisors. Also in the government group was another journalist, a former spymaster, and an ex-diplomat.
Apparently, talks between the Pakistani government and the TTP began in earnest after the United States announced the withdrawal of troops of Afghanistan. Officials in Islamabad and the ISI (the Pakistani intelligence service) worry that the TTP will move into that vacuum and join forces with their allies in Afghanistan and more seriously threaten the stability of the Pakistani government.
Although it seems contrary to their own interests to negotiate with the TTP, the Pakistani government is in good company when it comes to the strategy of sitting down with the Taliban.
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Photo: AP Images