Reuters is reporting that two separate CIA drone strikes in Waziristan left 15 dead this morning.
"In the first strike, a drone fired missiles at a vehicle in the Birmal area of the South Waziristan tribal region, killing eight."
"Seven were killed in the second attack later in the day, when a drone fired missiles at a vehicle in the Sara Khawra area, which straddles the border between North Waziristan and South Waziristan."
Earlier in the week Bloomberg reported that the Government of Pakistan again sought to end the CIA program through high level meetings in Washington.
“Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, Sherry Rehman, met Vice President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Antony Blinken on March 9 and told him that Pakistan’s political parties have agreed that the drone flights over Pakistan must end, officials involved said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks were private.”
Last month Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said.
"Drones are not only completely illegal and unlawful and have no authorization to be used within the domains of international law but even more importantly, they are counter-productive to the objective of getting this region rid of militancy, and terrorism and extremism."
Ahmed Rashid writing in today’s financial times gets to the core of the issue; arguing that the Government of Afghanistan can’t seek a long-term US military presence and peace with the Taliban.
“The Afghan president’s desire to seek a strategic partnership agreement with the US is becoming more and more unacceptable to the Afghan people. At the same time he also wants to make peace with the Taliban, but they have no desire for a pact with Washington. His dilemma, which he still refuses to understand, is that he can either ask for a long-term US presence or peace with the Taliban, but not both.”
It is based on this fact.
“Increasing numbers of Afghans would agree with what the Taliban have been arguing for almost a decade: that the western presence in Afghanistan is prolonging the war, causing misery and bloodshed.”
He ends with the challenges ahead.
“After the spate of incidents this year, there should be no doubt in Washington that seeking a negotiated settlement to end the war with the Taliban as quickly as possible is the only way out. Mr Obama has to put his weight behind this strategy to ensure an orderly withdrawal and to give the Afghan people the chance of an end to this war. A power-sharing formula with the Taliban, which now appears increasingly unavoidable, and an accord with neighbouring states to limit their interference, will be key.
In 1989 it was America and Pakistan who refused to allow a political solution to end the fighting because they wanted not just the Soviets gone but also Moscow’s Afghan protégées led by Mohammad Najibullah. Instead he hung on for three years, resulting in a civil war. America cannot again leave Afghanistan with a civil war as its bequest to the Afghans. Washington, and Nato, must seek an end to the war before withdrawing their forces. Despite the tragic death of so many innocent children, this is still possible if there is a concerted diplomatic and political push.”