Upset with Wednesday's drone attack in South Waziristan at a time when it had stepped up demands for stopping the aerial bombarding in its tribal belt, Pakistan has described drone attacks as a “core irritant” in the counter-terror campaign.
Further, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani told the National Assembly that Pakistan was also seeking the intervention of friendly countries to get the U.S. to stop the drone attacks. “They will be compelled to stop this,” he said without identifying the countries.
Curiously enough, word about the latest drone attacks broke in Islamabad when U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter was at the Foreign Office discussing bilateral issues. So, without having to summon him, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir registered a strong protest with the Ambassador.
Condemning the drone attack again on Thursday, Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said: “We have repeatedly said that such attacks are counter productive and only contribute to strengthen the hands of the terrorists.”
However, Pakistan has decided to accept the American invitation to the Foreign Secretary to visit Washington next week and Ms. Janjua added that Islamabad attached immense importance to relations with the U.S. After the previous drone attack on March 17 — in which nearly 40 tribesmen had been killed — Pakistan had pulled out of a trilateral meeting with the U.S. and Afghanistan slated for later that month.
Refusing to confirm whether Pakistan had asked the CIA to cut down its presence in the country, the spokesperson said: “We have a multi-track relationship and law enforcement and counter-terrorism is part of that. Discussion is on between the two governments on counter-terrorism and law enforcement.”
Asked to elaborate on the Prime Minister's statement that friendly countries were being contacted for help in getting the U.S. to call off the drone policy, Ms. Janjua refused to say anything more than that these are countries with an interest in counter-terrorism. Neither did she explain how the drone attacks, which Pakistan considered counter-productive, would become effective if it was conducted under the Pakistani flag.
Keywords: US drone attacks