Unmanned US Predator drones are continuing to wreak death in Pakistan’s tribal areas despite a peace deal signed between the government and insurgents in the country.
Last week the US fired a missile at a guest house in South Waziristan, killing 28 people.
A week earlier a similar attack killed 60 in a religious college. Now a US senator has let slip that the drones are based in Pakistan, rather than Afghanistan as previously claimed.
The US plans to deploy a new generation of these drones, known as “Reapers”, which have greater firepower.
The revelation has embarrassed Pakistan’s Western-backed government, which was elected last year on the promise it would halt the raids.
It signed a truce last week with insurgents – known as the “Pakistani Taliban” – in the restive tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.
The truce comes after a mass demonstration on 11 February in the Swat valley, which has been at the centre of much of the recent fighting.
The protest demanded an end to Pakistan’s military offensive on the region.
This offensive, which was launched at the end of last year, has claimed thousands of lives and displaced some 700,000 people.
It is widely considered to have failed to dislodge the insurgency.
The peace deal comes as a blow to the US, which saw spreading the war into Pakistan (now referred to as the “Af-Pak” war), as central to stabilising the Nato-led occupation of Afghanistan.
The US fears that the truce will allow Afghan insurgents to secure bases where they can regroup and organise attacks on occupation troops.
Problems for the occupation continue to mount – Barack Obama is refusing to speak to Afghan president Hamid Karzai.
Relations between the US and the corrupt regime it installed in 2001 deteriorated after the Afghan leader demanded an end to Nato and US air strikes that have claimed thousands of civilian victims.
Obama has conceded that Afghanistan should be allowed to contribute to a US “strategic review” of the war.
This is part of the re-evaluation of the “surge” of 30,000 troops into the country.
According to the “troops to civilian ratios” doctrine developed by General David Petraeus, the top US military commander, it would need some 400,000 foreign troops to push back the insurgents.
There are currently 70,000 foreign troops in the country.
The Stop the War Coalition is backing a demonstration at Nato’s conference in Strasbourg, France, on 2-5 April 2009. For more information go to » www.stopwar.org.uk