U.S. drone strikes inside Pakistan's borders have been dramatically curtailed since December in an apparent move to help foster peace talks between that nation's government and the Pakistani Taliban.
We, like most of the rest of the world, hope that the action can lead to some productive, meaningful discussions between Pakistan's new government and the Pakistani Taliban. But we remain skeptical.
And, apparently, so is the U.S. government.
While U.S. officials privately acknowledge the decrease in strikes, no one should be misled. Those same officials stress that any high-value al-Qaida operative who rears his head will remain a drone target. As will anyone who poses an "imminent threat to any U.S. person."
It seems to us that the U.S. does not want a repeat performance of the events last November when a U.S. drone killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud just days before peace talks were scheduled to begin.
At the time, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government was furious and claimed the U.S was sabotaging the talks.
Those claims may not have been entirely unfounded because for years the U.S. had been trying to push Pakistan into conducting a full-scale military assault on the Haqqani faction, a branch of the Afghan Taliban that is headquartered in the same tribal area along the Pakistani-Afghan border as the Pakistani group.
Nor does the U.S. want a repeat of the 2011 diplomatic firestorm caused when an errant missile attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at a border post.
The drone curtailment in part also may be an attempt to curry some favor with Sharif, who apparently requested it.
Since taking power last June in the first democratic transfer of power in Pakistani history, Sharif has been active in promoting peace in the region. He seems sincere about it and U.S. officials likely want to give him the chance to prove it.
The U.S. could use another friend in the region right now as it continues to have escalating difficulty with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has accused the Obama administration of plotting against him.
Meanwhile, the planned talks took another hit earlier in the week when two members of the Taliban delegation refused to participate forcing the government to postpone the talks once again.
No one should be deluded into thinking that Pakistani peace is on the horizon simply because the U.S. has temporarily halted drone strikes. But the action does provide a short-term chance for all sides to demonstrate good faith. We can only hope that they will avail themselves of the opportunity.