Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistan's anger at U.S. drone strikes growing

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Oct 24, IRNA -- Pakistan’s anger at the U.S. drone strikes in its tribal regions is fast growing and a recent statement by the country’s prime minister that Pakistan’s patience runs out is the ever harsh words the leaders have used so far.

Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani came up with stark remarks about the American drone attacks on Friday while speaking to diplomatic correspondents when he said: “Pakistan’s patience has already runs out on the U.S. drone strikes.'

American leaders have never given any importance to Pakistan’s public criticism at the drone strikes as they call these attacks essential to hit remnants of al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, who are hiding in Waziristan region and planning attacks on foreign forces across the border into Afghanistan.

Pakistan insists that drone strikes are counter-productive and could harm anti-terror cooperation. They also say that the strikes are creating political problems for the government.

The United States intensified strikes in Waziristan tribal belt after a Jordanian al-Qaeda militant struck the CIA center in Afghanistan’s eastern Khost province in December.

The bomber in a recorded video appeared with the Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsood, and his video appearance promoted intensification of drone strikes in North Waziristan.

U.S. officials say a large number of foreign militants have taken shelter with Pakistani militants in the region after fleeing the U.S-led war in Afghanistan in late 2001.

About 184 drone attacks have been carried out since 2004, mostly in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and over two dozen strikes have been launched since September this year, reports say.

A number of senior al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, including Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, have been killed in the drone attacks.

The U.S. military say that the Haqqani network, led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, the son of former Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, is based in North Waziristan and send fighters to Afghanistan’s three eastern provinces – Paktia, Khost and Paktika.

The U.S. and Pakistani media have been reporting time to time that there is a secret understanding on the drone strikes between Pakistan and the United States, the notion denied by Prime Minister Gilani when he spoke to diplomatic correspondents in Islamabad on Friday. But he disclosed that former president Pervez Musharraf had allowed the United States to carry out drone flights in tribal areas for reconnaissance.

Chairperson of the US Senate Intelligence Committee Senator Dianne Feinstein had in February last year disclosed that drones were being flown out of a Pakistani base.

Several recent polls in Pakistan and conducted by American institution show deep opposition among Pakistani citizens to the strikes.

Showing his anger at drone strikes, Gilani also said the U.S. drones are not using Pakistani air fields, adding that the former president Pervez Musharraf had allowed U.S. to use spy planes for reconnaissance flights but not to fire missiles.

Prime Minister Gilani through his statement on drone strikes is an effort to cool the temper in the country on the issue.

Many in Pakistan believe that Washington is not trusting its security forces and why the U.S. is not sharing intelligence with Pakistani authorities on the presence of al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders.



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