U.S. Sharply Scales Back Pakistan Drone Strikes

Longest lull in strikes since 2011 as Pakistan attempts talks with Taliban

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Aamir Qureshi / AFP / Getty Images

Members of a committee from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan which was set up to hold talks with the government of Pakistan, hold a news conference after their meeting in Islamabad on Feb. 3, 2014.

The U.S. has significantly cut back on drone strikes in Pakistan following a request from its government, which said the strikes were threatening peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban.

The Washington Post cited anonymous U.S. officials as saying “that’s what they asked for, and we didn’t tell them no.” However, the Obama administration will continue strikes against senior Al-Qaeda targets if they become available.

The current lull in drone strikes stretches back to November, when a strike that killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud took place days before scheduled peace talks between the Taliban and the Islamabad government. The Pakistani Taliban then canceled the meeting, and government officials accused the U.S. of attempting to sabotage the talks.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said he wants the drone strikes program to end. While militants are the targets of such strikes, the attacks have reportedly killed scores of civilians.

Though there is now an agreed pause in drone strikes, a scheduled meeting between the Pakistani and Taliban delegations was again canceled on Tuesday after two members of the Taliban delegation declined to take part.

[The Washington Post]