US President Obama officially acknowledges drone strikes in Pakistan; NATO report finds Pakistan support to Taliban; PM Gilani to be indicted by SC
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  • (January 30- February 05)
    According to reports, US President Barack Obama confirmed that the US drone aircraft have struck Taliban and Al Qaeda targets within Pakistan – operations that until now had not been officially acknowledged. When asked about the use of drones by his administration in a chat with web users on Google+ and YouTube, Obama said “a lot of these strikes have been in the FATA” – Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. “For the most part, they’ve been very precise precision strikes against Al Qaeda and their affiliates, and we’re very careful in terms of how it’s been applied,” Obama said. Explaining that many strikes were carried out “on Al-Qaeda operatives in places where the capacities of that military in that country may not be able to get them,” Obama confirmed that Pakistan’s lawless tribal zone was a target. 1

    On domestic front, according to reports, the Supreme Court of Pakistan summoned Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to appear on February 13 to be indicted with contempt over his refusal to pursue corruption cases against the president. The announcement significantly escalated pressure on the embattled prime minister, threatening to plunge his weak government deeper into crisis and force early elections within months. Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk told the court that there were grounds to proceed against Gilani over the government’s refusal to follow a court order and ask Swiss authorities to re-open corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. The government argued that Zardari had immunity from prosecution while head of state. Switzerland shelved the cases in 2008, when Zardari took office. 2

    In other developments, according to reports, a secret NATO report noted that the Pakistani security services are secretly helping Afghanistan’s Taliban, who assume their victory is inevitable once Western troops leave. The leaked “State of the Taliban” report seen by the BBC and The Times newspaper was compiled from information gleaned from insurgent detainees and was given to NATO commanders in Afghanistan last month, the media reports said. 3