"At this point, I would not be prepared to vote for stop them (drone strikes) in Pakistan, but I am open to arguments," Congressman Adam Smith, Ranking member of powerful House Armed Services Committee, said in a meeting with the Defence Writers Group on Thursday.
    
The influential Democratic Congressman was responding to questions about the reported move of the Obama Administration to curtail and finally stop drone strikes against high level terrorists inside Pakistan.
    
"There are still senior al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and drone strike is the best way to go after them. It has been successful to this point in stopping them from plotting and planning attacks," Smith said.
    
"On the other hand it has significantly made the population against us. At this point drones have been beneficial, but have such a poisonous reputation internationally," he added.
    
A series of news reports in the mainstream American press this week said the Obama Administration has assured Pakistan it would curtail drone strikes inside the country and finally stop in the next few years.
    
The White House has not denied the news report, though it has refrained from making any direct comment on it.
    
"I can't talk about operational matters. What I can say is that the President Barack Obama made clear in his NDU speech that by the end of 2014, in the Afghan war theatre, we will no longer have the same need for force protection and the progress we've made against core al-Qaeda will reduce the need for unmanned strikes," the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at his daily news conference.
    
In his speech at the National Defence University (NDU) on May 23, 2103, Obama had said, "We will continue to take strikes against high value al-Qaeda targets, but also against forces that are massing to support attacks on coalition forces."
    
He had further said, "But by the end of 2014, we will no longer have the same need for force protection, and the progress we've made against core al-Qaeda will reduce the need for unmanned strikes."
    
For the first time in two years, the month of January saw no US drone strikes in Pakistan.

(Agencies)

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