Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gilani Criticises US For Drone Strikes

Islamabad  : Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani today criticised US drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal belt, saying Islamabad is applying diplomatic pressure on Washington to stop the missile strikes as they undermine efforts to fight extremism and terrorism.

Gilani made the remarks in the National Assembly or lower house of parliament hours after US drones targeted a compound in the restive South Waziristan tribal region, killing six suspected militants.

The strike was the first since March 17, when over 40 people were killed as the CIA-operated spy planes targeted what Pakistani officials said was a tribal jirga.

Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state and diplomatic channels are being used to compel the US to stop drone attacks as they are counter-productive, Gilani said in response to various issues raised by Leader of Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

Pakistan had informed other countries that the drone strikes were creating problems for the government, he said.

“Under a well thought out strategy, we had separated the tribesmen from militants. Whenever a drone attack is carried out, it unites the militants and the tribal people. This creates problems for the government because no war is won without the support of the people,” he said.

He said his government had united the “whole nation in fighting terrorism” by adopting a rational strategy that isolated terrorists and militants from the tribesmen.

The security forces too had conducted successful operations against militants, he remarked.

Gilani further said the leadership of Pakistan and Afghanistan were united against US drone attacks as these were not in favour of both countries.

Pakistan is part of the solution to the Afghan issue and the Afghan war cannot be won without Pakistan’s support, he added.

“Terrorism, law and order and economy are inter-related.  Until the issues of terrorism and law and order are not controlled, foreign investment will not come to the country,” he said.

Even one suicide attack would scare investors away, he said.

The Foreign Office too strongly condemned the drone attack at Angoor Adda in South Waziristan.

“We have repeatedly said that such attacks are counter-productive and only contribute to strengthen the hands of the terrorists,” spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said in a statement.

“Drone attacks have become a core irritant in the counter-terror campaign. Pakistan has taken up the matter with the US at all levels. The Foreign Secretary has lodged a strong protest with the US Ambassador today,” she said.

Today’s drone strike came just a day after a meeting in Washington between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency chief and the head of the CIA, which runs the drone campaign.

Media reports had claimed that the Pakistani military had told the CIA to limit its drone campaign. PTI


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