The use of so-called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which allow the military to operate in highly dangerous areas, is expected to grow in the coming years with the US defence department expected to buy 700 drones next year alone.

But the long-distance, remote-controlled warfare that inflicts heavy civilian casualties has sparked public anger in Pakistan.

The US government has called on Islamabad to step up its efforts against Taliban- and al-Qaeda-linked fighters who cross over into Afghanistan.

The Pakistani army recently completed an offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan, which borders North Waziristan.

But Pakistani authorities say the military may soon pursue similar operations in other parts of the lawless tribal belt along the Afghan border.