18 killed in fifth attack in seven days

On Friday, it was business as usual for drones in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The CIA sent its unmanned Predators to North Waziristan yet again and Pakistan continued with its protests.

As many as 18 suspected terrorists are reported to have been killed in Friday’s drone attacks on the Shawal Valley of North Waziristan. This was the fifth time in the past seven days that drones have visited the tribal agency adjoining Afghanistan and most of these attacks have targeted Shawal Valley.

Despite the repeated bombarding of Shawal Valley, there was no clarity as to who the targets are. The valley is under the control of Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar and the area is considered a safe haven by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and foreign fighters carrying out jihad against the coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The series of attacks on Friday came a day after the Foreign Office summoned a senior official of the U.S. Embassy to issue a demarche over the repeated drone attacks which Pakistan views as a violation of its sovereignty.

Quizzed about the continuing drone attacks, Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said: “We regard drone attacks as illegal, counter-productive, violation of our sovereignty, territorial integrity and in contravention of international law. Having said that, we are engaging the U.S. leadership at various levels on this issue and are working on various proposals. We hope to come up with a mutually acceptable solution to this issue.”

Bilateral dealing

Asked whether Pakistan intended to take the matter to the United Nations or any other international forum, he said: “There are other options available but at the moment we are dealing with this issue bilaterally.” He refused to dwell on the proposals under discussion as an alternative to the drone strikes but denied that Pakistan was providing the U.S intelligence to carry out the targeted attacks.

WikiLeaks had earlier revealed that both the civil and military establishment of Pakistan had extended tacit support to the drone attacks but told the U.S. that they would have to continue with the public posture of protesting the CIA’s drone policy.

In a related development, Afghan terrorists crossed into Pakistani territory and attacked security check posts in the Lower Dir area. Five of the intruders were killed in the crossfire that ensued. Cross-border attacks have become an irritant in Af-Pak relations with both capitals accusing the other of doing little to stop the terrorists.

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