Are Drone Attacks The Best Recruiting Tool For The Taliban?

Today, a bomb attack in North West Pakistan killed eight people. The attack took place in Koto village and coincided with the re-opening of a girls’ school. The bomb blast killed three US military personnel, three children and a Pakistani security guard. According to a local hospital, around 65 people were injured in the attack. The girls’ school had been rebuilt after a similar attack took place in 2009, the rebuilding was financed by a foreign non-governmental organization.

According to AP, the US soldiers killed today in Pakistan were wearing civilian clothes, and were introduced as “journalists” by Pakistan military handlers. The US embassy in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, said the Americans were in the area to attend the re-opening of the girls’ school when the bomb exploded.

“Three Americans were killed and two were injured in a terrorist bomb explosion at 11:20 AM today in the Lower Dir district. The Americans were US military personnel in Pakistan to conduct training at the invitation of the Pakistan Frontier Corps,” said the US embassy in a statement.

Taliban fighters, in this part of North West Pakistan, have conducted attacks and destroyed hundreds of school in opposition to girls’ education. Pakistan’s Taliban immediately claimed responsibility for today’s attack on the school.

“We claim responsibility for the blast,” said Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq.

The attack seems to be in direct retaliation to the one conducted yesterday by US drones in the North Waziristan tribal area of Pakistan. According to Pakistani officials a number of US drones launched at least 18 missiles which targeted Taliban hideouts and killed around 35 people. This was one of the largest drone attack carried out by the US in Pakistan.

Pakistani authorities are fearing a backlash from the drone attacks. Just recently Pakistan military had clearly expressed that they had not given any tacit approval for the Americans to conduct such strikes. There is a tremendous opposition from a majority of Pakistanis towards the US drone attacks, and it is growing. The drone attacks have often resulted in civilian deaths, provoked anger among Pakistanis and are boosting support for the Taliban.

According to a Pew Research Center survey taken in Pakistan in August 2009, opinions of America and its people remain extremely negative in Pakistan. President Obama’s global popularity did not take hold in the country, and America’s image remains as tarnished as it was during the Bush years. In 2009, only 22 percent of Pakistanis thought the US took their interests into account when making foreign policy decision. Fully 64 percent of Pakistanis regarded the US as an enemy, while only 9 percent described it as a partner.

Anti-US sentiments run deep in Pakistan. A recent poll, conducted in Pakistan, showed that around 70 percent of Pakistanis believe that the 9/11/2001 attack in New-York was an “inside job” conducted by the US government to justify the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. The fact that US military personnel and CIA operatives presence in Pakistan is growing can only reinforce this commonly shared point of view.

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