Drone Strikes Stop in Pakistan After U.S. Embassy Employee Arrest

Here's how a botched robbery attempt ended up helping the Taliban

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Last month, Raymond Davis, an employee at the American consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, shot and killed two men on the street. Davis says the men were attempting to rob him. Shortly after this happened, a Toyota Land Cruiser from the consulate arrived on the scene, apparently with the intention of rescuing Davis; the Land Cruiser struck and killed a third man. Davis is now being held by Pakistani police, who are trying to decide whether to press murder charges. The U.S. has claimed that Davis has diplomatic immunity and must be released, but it's not clear whether this is actually the case.

All of this is complicated enough without bringing robotic warplanes into it, but apparently the Davis case has had a ripple effect on American drone strikes in Pakistan. Specifically, it's caused them to stop. Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai at The Daily Beast report that there haven't been any drone strikes in Pakistan for nearly a month, and that "a senior Pakistani official has confirmed that Davis' case is directly connected to the freezing of the attacks, and says that Washington is afraid of further inflaming anti-American sentiment in Pakistan in the wake of the shootings."

According to Reuters, the last drone strike occurred on January 23, making it 26 days since an attack took place. This is one of the longest periods of inactivity since President Obama called for a marked increase in the use of drone planes over Pakistan in 2009. Moreau and Yousafzai report that until the Davis case is resolved, "both American and Pakistani officials fear that... any further drone attacks could set off destabilizing street protests."

In the meantime, though, Taliban operatives hanging out in Pakistan--the original targets of the drone strikes--will probably enjoy a degree of mobility that they hadn't in 2010, when strikes were a regular occurrence. The Wall Street Journal reports that members of Haqqani, a militant group "aligned with al Qaeda and the Taliban," may be migrating into a new region from which it would be easier to carry out attacks in Kabul. And it doesn't help that relations between the CIA and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence appear to have cooled considerably--to the point where, according to the Journal, "U.S. officials say the ISI no longer provides the CIA with targeting information in most cases."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.