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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistan: US War Against Militants Hurting Economy

VOA News 15 January 2010

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has told a visiting American envoy the U.S. war against militancy in the region has almost "paralyzed" Pakistan's economy.

Mr. Zardari says the war has cost his country about $35 billion over the past eight years. He commented Friday in Lahore during a meeting with Richard Holbrooke, the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

President Zardari also repeated a call for the U.S. to provide Pakistan with drone (pilotless aircraft) technology, saying U.S. drone attacks against militants in Pakistan have undermined his country's "national consensus" on the war against terror.

Attacks by pilotless drones have increased in Afghanistan and Pakistan since a suicide bomber killed seven U.S. intelligence agents in eastern Afghanistan, last month.

On Thursday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also reiterated criticism of the drone attacks, calling them counterproductive in a speech to parliament.

Pakistani officials publicly protest the attacks, but they are believed to secretly cooperate with U.S. efforts to locate militant targets.

Meanwhile, Pakistani news agencies say Holbrooke also assured President Zardari that Pakistan will soon be provided almost $350 million in aid and $125 million to support upgrades at the Tarbala power plant.

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