The drone attacks conducted by the United States in north-west Pakistan are a 'spillover' effect from the conflict in Afghanistan and therefore to be assessed within that Non-International Armed Conflict.
The situation in Pakistan is largely infected with acts of violence on several fronts. Parts of the tribal areas of north-western Pakistan; in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (“FATA”) and the North-West Frontier Province (“NWFP”) are controlled by Islamist militant groups. Many of those groups are part of, or affiliated with, the umbrella group, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (“TTP”). The mission of the TTP is to overthrow the current leadership and establish an Islamic emirate in Pakistan, and the group is thereby directly opposing the Pakistani government. The TTP is closely related to the Haqqani Network which also operates in north-western Pakistan and considered to be the strongest fighter against international forces in central and eastern Afghanistan. The Haqqani Network does not oppose the government, but rather NATO and Afghan forces.
Since 2004, the CIA has been flying drones over the tribal areas, targeting suspected militants in hundreds of strikes. The United States has considered Pakistan an important partner in the fight against terrorism, giving large financial support to the country. At the same time as co-operating with the United States, the Pakistani government has been concluding cease fire agreements with some of the militant groups, essentially leaving them alone as long as they refrain from attacking Pakistani targets. It has also been shown through diplomatic documents released by WikiLeaks in 2010, that the Pakistani Intelligence agency (ISI) has been co-operating with the Haqqani Network. In April 2011, Pakistan required that the United States reduce the number of C.I.A operatives on its territory and that they cease the use of drones, those demands were not obeyed by the United States. The drone attacks conducted by the United States in north-west Pakistan are a ‘spillover’ effect from the conflict in Afghanistan and therefore to be assessed within that Non International Armed Conflict. The drone attacks targeting militants outside the tribal areas and the NWFP are ruled by the law enforcement model. They raise questions on state sovereignty as well as unlawful killings. The hostilities between Pakistan and the TTP might reach the threshold for armed conflict, but is a separate conflict to which the United States is not a party.
DISCUSSION PAPER 2: DRONE ATTACKS, INTERNATIONAL LAW, AND THE RECORDING OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES OF ARMED CONFLICT, pp. 11-12