With more than a month left in 2010, the United States has already doubled its 2009 tally for drone strikes in Pakistan. The United States launched its 106th strike over the weekend, at a target in North Waziristan. In 2009, the US launched 53 drone strikes in Pakistan compared to 34 strikes in 2008. Both the year-on-year, and the intra-year rate of strikes has increased, with the United States launching 54 attacks in the first 8 months of 2010 and 52 in the following three months.
While many scholars and commentators seek to justify US drone strikes in Pakistan under either the rubric of self-defense or by expanding the zone of combat of the war in Afghanistan to include the frontier region of Pakistan, the proliferation of strikes and the fact that armed groups other than Al Qaeda or the Afghan Taliban are targeted leaves these explanations wanting. It is likely that the intensity of US drone strikes and the level of organization of the targeted groups places the United States in an armed conflict in Pakistan, triggering international humanitarian law.