Drone strikes have Pakistanis 'living in fear'

Pakistanis protest US drone strikes in Lahore on November 1.

Another US drone strike, another round of condemnations within Pakistan. The latest attack killed at least five at a seminary in a populated area of north-western Pakistan, leaving editorial pages wondering if their government is doing enough to convince the United States to back off.

On Wednesday, the [Pakistani] prime minister's foreign affairs adviser, Sartaj Aziz, told the Senate that the US authorities had given assurances that they would not carry out any drone attacks while talks with the Taliban are underway. But only hours after the briefing, three missiles were fired from a drone at a seminary in a settled area in Hangu district. In view of the strong reaction there has been from the Pakistani public, the government should be forceful in bringing up the drone issue with the US, and do whatever a proud and independent nation would do to protect its security and sovereignty - Editorial in the moderate Urdu-language paper Daily Express.

We think we need a tougher policy on drone attacks, in line with the national consensus. The government should not be satisfied on mere routine statements. If the government continues to tread softly, we will become a softer target for the US and Nato countries. - Editorial in the conservative nationalist Urdu-language daily Nawa-i-Waqt.

Sartaj Aziz said in a high-profile policy statement that the US had assured Pakistan it would not carry out drone attacks while talks with the Taliban are being held. The US needs to realise that when innocent people are killed in drone strikes and every person in Pakistan's tribal areas has to live in fear, it also creates problems for the Pakistani government. Washington should review this policy, and should be sincere in implementing the assurance it gave Pakistan. - Editorial in centrist, pro-free market Daily Jang.

BBC correspondent Saba Eitizaz files a report from the scene of the attack:

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Media captionSaba Eitizaz reports:: Pakistan's foreign office condemned the strike

Several papers expressed concern that the missile attack in the Hangu district would distract the government from its efforts to defeat militants inside Pakistan.

A drone strike further penetrating into Pakistan's territory a day after a statement by a seasoned and reputedly responsible diplomat raises serious questions over the state of US-Pak relationships. It is obvious that the federal government's efforts to convince Washington have resulted in complete failure. [It] must answer where it stands on issues with its 'strategic allies', and explain the communication breakdown which is apparent from this recent development. Opposition to drones is justified and must continue, but it would be nice to see the political leadership spare a few words over the presence of militants in Pakistani territory, and reveal what steps, if any, are being taken to curb this free movement. - Editorial in conservative English-language paper The Nation.

Sartaj Aziz's words were carefully chosen: he spoke only of the [Pakistani Taliban umbrella group] Tehreek Taliban Pakistan not being targeted - which they are not. So the killing of an alleged militant linked to the Haqqani network does not, strictly speaking, fall within the ambit of the reported US assurance. Still, such an attack at a time the government keeps insisting to already hostile Pakistanis that drone strikes will end soon, will force the rulers to adopt a condemnatory mode. Even if that condemnation is mild, it will, yet again, steer the national conversation away from militancy and towards the undesirability of drones. - Editorial in the progressive English-language paper Dawn.

(From reports provided by BBC Monitoring)