The director of CIP’s Asia Program, Selig Harrison, published an article in the National Interest discussing the drone campaign in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan as radicalizing the tribal Pashtuns. Mark Katz argues that while the United States prefers a united Pakistan, one way to force Pakistan to stop aiding the Taliban would be to support Pashtunistan. The Pashtun tribal region’s autonomy was pressured when the United States demanded stricter border control to stop the Taliban from using the tribal areas as a supply route between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now the United States must decide whether it will continue its drone attack campaign to eliminate terrorist hideouts in the tribal region, which costs $1 million per strike, when “94 percent of those killed are lower-level militants.”
Critics of the drone program point out that only two of 581 militants believed to have been killed last year are on the “most wanted” list of US terrorists. As The Washington Post reported: a program that began with intermittent lethal attacks targeted on Al Qaeda leaders has evolved into a campaign that now seems primarily focused on lower-level leaders.