Islamabad: Visiting US defence secretary Robert Gates revealed in Islamabad that the United States of America intended to supply Pakistan with a dozen unarmed drone aircraft in a bid to boost the effectiveness of its military's fight against Taliban militants on the border with Afghanistan.
Gates made the revelation in an interview with Pakistani television. When asked if Washington was prepared to supply Islamabad with unmanned aircraft he said, "There are some tactical UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) that we are considering, yes."
|The Shadow 200|
Subsequently, officials in his delegation confirmed that indeed funds were being set aside to secure 12 'Shadow' UAVs for Pakistan.
So far, inspite of persistent demands, Washington has refused to provide Pakistan armed drones. The Shadow offer appears to be aimed at placating the Pakistan's military and civil establishment and to dissipate anti-American sentiment amongst the people who perceive armed American UAV strikes against Taliban terrorists inside Pakistani borders as a direct violation of national sovereignty.
It is also aimed at enticing the military into extending operations against Taliban militants from South Waziristan into North Waziristan, where the entire Talibani militant outfits are believed to have escaped, untouched by the military offensive.
Interestingly, Gates's offer was made only after the Pakistan military categorically rejected US demands that the current offensive in South Waziristan be extended to North Waziristan.