A US drone strike killed at least four suspected militants in North Waziristan on Monday; a fact that an unnamed intelligence officer calmly confirmed later. The strike barely registers in the headlines. In fact, this is the fourth strike in this year, all of which were comparatively under the radar. It seems that the days when drone strikes were the embodiment of the imperial West and a lightening rod for national rage at Pakistan’s foreign policy are behind us. The army and top brass used to give a token denunciation now and then to keep up with the official stance, and even that is now a rarity. Based on circumstantial evidence, it is quite clear that recent strikes are not only being carried out with Pakistan’s permission, but at their behest too.

From the perspective of the ongoing operation against militancy, such co-operation between Pakistan and the U.S bodes well. Only a co-ordinated effort by Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the U.S can flush out the remaining militants. Drone strikes have the advantage of stealth, precision and quick action, coupled with military intelligence gathered during the operation. They can, and have been, an effective weapon. Yet, officials continue to maintain a non-committal policy when the facts stare us right in the face. By giving official approval, the state can undercut one of the biggest legal arguments against the strikes. The argument that drone strikes are a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty only functions if the US operates unilaterally in Pakistani territory. Under international public law, a state can legally invite foreign forces to provide aid; acceptance of the fact that the strikes are co-ordinated makes their occurrence a state action.

Furthermore, perhaps there has never been a better time to come clean. The national mood saw the moratorium on the death penalty lifted, the establishment of military courts, and a virtual free hand to the army to crack down on militancy. The strike’s biggest critic, Imran Khan has a new political landscape before him; where grieving mothers curse him for abandoning KPK to militancy and ruin. Major religious parties are on the back foot, more focused on protecting their lucrative madrassa networks than scoring ideological points against the West. Right now is the time to do away with ambiguity that has caused the state much trouble. By having the public swallow one of their most hated pills, the government would pave the way for smooth cooperation between the US and Pakistan.