The U.S. Hasn’t Bombed Pakistan for Almost Two Months. How Long Will It Last?

How It Works
Feb. 20 2014 3:01 PM

The Drone War Is On Hold in Pakistan

459364229-activists-from-the-muttahida-shehri-mahaz-shout-slogans
Activists shout slogans as they protest against a U.S. drone attack in Multan on Dec. 26, 2013.

Photo by S.S. Mirza/AFP/Getty Images

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that “The CIA has not bombed Pakistan for 55 days, the longest pause between drone strikes in Pakistan of Obama’s presidency yet recorded by the Bureau.” (For reference, the group’s estimates of the number of attacks and casualties have generally been on the higher end compared with other sources.)

As the Washington Post noted earlier this month, “The current pause follows a November strike that killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud just days before an initial attempt at peace talks [between Islamabad and the Pakistani Taliban] was scheduled to begin.” The previous longest pause followed the accidental killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers at a border crossing in 2011.

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It’s not at all clear whether this marks a change in policy, or just a pause requested by the Pakistani government as it pursues talks with the Taliban. Suspected U.S. drone strikes have been carried out in Somalia and Yemen during this period. A report released today by Human Rights Watch demands an investigation into the drone strike that may have killed up to a dozen civilians at a wedding party in Yemen in December.

Reports also came out earlier this month that the U.S. is debating whether to launch a drone attack against a U.S. citizen who is a member of al-Qaida in Pakistan. There is evidence that overall, the U.S. is relying less on drone strikes, but it seems quite possible that strikes could pick up again after this current pause.  

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

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