The Obama administration has scaled back its drone strikes after a request from the Pakistan government as it engages in talks with the Taliban, officials said Wednesday.
The United States has already decreased the number of drone strikes in recent years. Pakistan was the target of 28 drones strikes in 2013, down from a high of 117 in 2010. A handful took place after Nov. 1, 2013, according to Dronestream.
“That’s what they asked for, and we didn’t tell them no,” a U.S. official told The Washington Post, adding that the administration will go after only senior Qaida officials or immediate threats to an American.
Officials said the decision followed a November drone strike in Pakistan ahead of the government’s talks with the Taliban. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said at the time that the United States was trying to sabotage the negotiations.
The U.S. hasn’t launched a drone strike in Pakistan so far in 2014; it has launched three this year in Yemen.
But a senior administration official pushed back against the notion that the decrease in drone strikes is tied to Pakistan’s ongoing talks with the Taliban.
The Obama administration is “continuing to aggressively identify and disrupt terrorist threats in the Afghan war theater and outside areas of active hostilities in line with our established [counterterrorism] objectives and legal and policy standards…. Reports that we have agreed to a different approach in support of Pakistani peace talks are wrong,” the official said.
The Taliban and Pakistani officials were supposed to meet for talks Tuesday, but the Taliban decided not to participate.