`Pak running out of patience on drone strikes`
Islamabad: With the US stepping up drone strikes on the Waziristan region in recent days, Pakistan`s Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar has said his government was running out of patience and Washington must not test its limits.
Pakistan has repeatedly protested the unilateral strikes, and Mukhtar said his government would unveil a revised policy on drone attacks soon.
The warning came as the US spy aircraft carried out four strikes in Pakistan`s Waziristan tribal region in three days and killed nearly 10 people including three al Qaeda-linked Egyptians.
A recent report on the US drone attacks in Pakistan says that the US spy aircraft have killed up to 775 civilians, that includes as many as 173 children, in 300 strikes in Pakistan`s tribal regions since the attacks started in June 2004.
The report released on Saturday by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism said between 1,141 and 1,225 persons were also injured in the strikes, mostly in Waziristan tribal areas near the Afghan border.
Defence Minister Chaudhry Mukhtar said Pakistan strongly opposes the US drone strikes and is asking the Americans to stop these attacks.
He told reporters in the eastern city of Lahore yesterday that Pakistan is losing patience as the US has continued strikes, which he described as counter-productive in the war on armed militants.
Mukhtar said that Pakistan will soon chalk out a policy with a tough stand on the issue of US drone strikes.
Responding to a question, he said Pakistan was a responsible nuclear power and could not accept the killing of its people in such attacks. The recent report on drones, quoted by the Dawn newspaper, has mentioned varying figures about the casualties in the attacks as it said that at least 2,318 people and a maximum of 2,912 people, the majority of them alleged militants, have been killed in these attacks.
Of the 300 drone strikes since June 17, 2004, it said, 248 occurred during President Barack Obama`s first three years, rising to a frequency of almost one strike every four days.
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