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Pakistan rejects US daily report on drone strikes

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Sept 28, IRNA -- Pakistan has rejected an American media report that the US drone strikes were taking place with the 'tacit consent' of the Pakistan government, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, the intended target areas are

'outlined' to the Pakistani intelligence service which then gives an unspoken consent to the US forces to conduct these strikes within its borders by clearing the airspace and does not 'interfere physically with the unmanned aircraft in flight.' The report also claimed that Pakistan clears airspace of a certain area where a drone attack is planned, in correspondence with the faxes its intelligence service receives once a month from the American CIA.

Responding to the report, the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson categorically rejected the insinuation made in the report and reiterated Pakistan's long-standing position on drone attacks.

'There can be no question of Pakistan's agreement to such attacks,' the Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

He said that the US drone attacks are illegal, counterproductive, in contravention of international law and a violation of Pakistani sovereignty.

Drone attacks in Pakistan tribal regions have been one of the irritants in the relationship between the two countries for years.

Pakistan opposes these strikes, but the US defends the CIA-controlled campaign as an effective source to eliminate al-Qaeda and Taliban militants blamed for cross-border attacks.

On Thursday, Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar called the drone strikes inside Pakistani territory as 'illegal, unlawful and counterproductive,' saying they were among the reasons for the rise of anti-Americanism in Pakistan.

'Drones are a reason why the US is unpopular in Pakistan,' she said in response to a question at Asia Society in New York where she spoke to a packed-to-capacity audience on the foreign policy goals of the democratic government.

'What the drones are trying to achieve, we may not disagree. We do not disagree. If they are going for terrorists - we do not disagree,' the foreign minister said, according to text of her speech released by the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad. 'But we have to find ways which are lawful, which are legal.'

She insisted that the use of unilateral strikes on Pakistani territory is illegal.

'It is illegal and it is unlawful,' Pakistani foreign minister added.

She added Pakistan's government needs to build popular support for its own efforts to crush armed militant groups, but this is impossible as long as the war is viewed as US interference.

'As the drones fly over the territory of Pakistan, it becomes an American war and the whole logic of this being our fight, in our own interest, is immediately put aside and again it is a war imposed on us,' she said.

Ignoring Pakistani opposition to the drones, she said, it is 'about choosing to win the battle at the cost of the war. These are battles. You get one terrorist, two terrorists, fine. But are you winning the war?' she asked.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 80344964

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