Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani on Friday admitted that 80 per cent of the estimated 3,000 people killed in the country in drone attacks were terrorists. This runs contrary to the mainstream narrative that puts the number of innocents killed at a higher percentage.
In a briefing to the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Jilani reiterated Pakistan’s position that drone attacks are not only counter-productive but also a violation of sovereignty and international law. But he maintained that the country cannot afford to shoot them down. “We cannot bear the fallout of shooting down drones,” he said, stressing the need for a comprehensive policy to expel the foreign fighters having base in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Mr. Jilani’s admission came on a day when the drones visited the Bobar Ghar area along the border of North and South Waziristan. Two missiles were fired on a compound of the Tehreek-e-Taliban and, according to reports from the tribal areas, eight terrorists were killed in these strikes. Officials claimed the dead included two foreign fighters of the al-Qaeda, Abu Majid Al-Iraqi and Shiekh Waqas Al-Yamoni.
Drone attacks are termed a major irritant in relations between Pakistan and the U.S. though there are strong indications that the unmanned Predators target terrorist hideouts in the tribal areas with the tacit support of the Pakistani civil and military leadership. However, both sides steer clear of providing details.
Though Pakistan has earlier protested the attacks, this has stopped of late with Foreign Office officials stating that the matter was being discussed with the U.S. but outside the public domain.