Despite Pakistan's insistence that the US cease its drone strikes there, CIA drone missiles struck militant targets in the country for the first time in a month yesterday, the Washington Post reports. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry condemned the strikes, which killed four fighters linked to al-Qaeda. Just last week, Pakistan told US negotiators during talks in Islamabad that the US must unconditionally apologize for the November airstrikes that claimed the lives of 24 Pakistani soldiers before Pakistan would reopen NATO supply routes to Afghanistan. Some politicians now warn that the new strikes may set those negotiations back even further.
Washington has said it has no intention of offering such an apology—while the Obama administration has expressed regret over what it calls an accident, the Pentagon has attributed blame to both sides—but talks are ongoing. "When a duly elected democratic Parliament says three times not to do this, and the US keeps doing it, it undermines democracy," says a Pakistani government official. "These drone strikes may kill terrorists, but the net loser is freedom and democracy." The talks also involve the US releasing $1.1 billion to Pakistan, aid money Pakistan is owed for allying itself with the US and other coalition powers in the counterterrorism effort; Pakistan says the true amount owed is three times more. (Read more Pakistan stories.)