Thursday, April 21, 2011

US: Strikes on Pakistan to continue

Pakistanis hold placards as they shout slogans to condemn a US drone attack in the North Waziristan tribal region, during a protest in Peshawar on March 19, 2011.

Source: Press TV

The United States says it will not halt its drone attacks in Pakistan, defying repeated calls from Islamabad and Pakistani people for an end to the non-UN-sanctioned strikes.

“The program is something that we have said we go ahead on. The question is how. And that process is going to be something that's going to be one of the main tasks that our intelligence and our military guys have,” Reuters quoted a US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying on Wednesday.

This comes as the chairman of the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, has met with Pakistan's high-ranking intelligence officials in Lahore.

The US had previously insisted on its stance about continuing the drone attacks in a meeting between CIA director Leon Panetta and Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency in Washington last week.

Washington has at times claimed it has an agreement with Islamabad on launching such attacks, but Pakistani authorities say there has never been such a deal and that they view the airstrikes as repeated violations of the country's sovereignty.

Moreover, Pakistani lawmakers have strongly criticized the US drone strikes and urged the government “to review its foreign policy and adopt a strict stance to stop CIA attacks inside Pakistan.”

Khawaja Saad Rafiq, the leader of major Pakistani party Muslim League Nawaz, has blamed the hike in the acts of terrorism in Pakistan on the ongoing CIA drone attacks.

The CIA's unauthorized drone strikes in Pakistan's northwest tribal belt claimed the lives of more than 1,180 people in 2010 alone, reports say.

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