U.S. Drone Strike Kills 6 in Pakistan, Fueling Anger

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — At least six
people were killed in an American
drone strike in Pakistan’s restive
northwestern tribal areas early Friday,
according to government officials and
local news reports.
The strike was directed at a house in
the Ghulam Khan area of the North
Waziristan tribal region, close to the
border with Afghanistan.
A senior Haqqani network commander
was killed, a security official said. The
official, who requested anonymity
because he was not authorized to speak
to the media, said that the ranking
Haqqani official in the region, Sangin
Zadran, had been killed. “He was the
most influential commander in the
area,” the official said. “The Americans
had been after him for a long time.”
North Waziristan has long been a
haven for Taliban and Qaeda militants.
American drone strikes are deeply
unpopular in Pakistan, and opposition
to them has become an essential staple
of local politics and grievances against
the United States. Pakistani politicians
and government officials condemn the
missile strikes, which are directed by
the Central Intelligence Agency, as a
violation of the country’s sovereignty.
Opposition politicians like Imran
Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-
Insaf political party, have campaigned
against the strikes, saying that they
result more in civilian casualties than
militant killings. In October 2012, Mr.
Khan led a big protest rally to the edges
of the tribal regions against the use of
drones on Pakistani soil.
The number of drone strikes has,
however, dropped sharply in recent
months. The last strike occurred on
Aug. 31, when at least four suspected
militants were killed in an attack in
North Waziristan.
Secretary of State John Kerry hinted in
a visit to Pakistan earlier in August that
the drone strikes could end soon.
“The program will end as we have
eliminated most of the threat and
continue to eliminate it,” Mr. Kerry
said at the time in an interview
broadcast on state-run television. “I
think the president has a very real time
line, and we hope it’s going to be very,
very soon.”
The Friday strike came as Pakistan
celebrated Defense Day, a day of
remembrance for those killed in the
1965 war with neighboring India.
As news of the strike spread, there was
a flurry of critical reactions, especially
on Twitter.
Shireen Mazari , a lawmaker and
information secretary of Mr. Khan’s
political party, remarked that the strike
“reminds us of the changing nature of
multiple threats” the country is facing.
In a Twitter posting, Mr. Khan
condemned the strike and said he
planned to take it up with Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif during a
meeting of all political parties on
Monday.
Mr. Sharif has convened the much-
awaited meeting in Islamabad of
political leaders to devise a national
strategy to deal with militancy and