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Pakistan renews call for end to US drone strikes

Last Updated: Saturday, January 9, 2010 - 13:52

Islamabad: Pakistan has renewed calls for an end to US drone aircraft strikes, an issue that could strain ties as the CIA hunts down Muslim militants after one of the deadliest attacks in its history in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Pakistan officially objects to the operations against suspected al Qaeda and Taliban militants along its border with Afghanistan, saying they violate its sovereignty.

And Islamabad has pushed Washington to provide it with the drones to allow it to carry out its own attacks on Taliban insurgents, a move that could ease widespread anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani reiterated Pakistan`s concerns over the drone strikes in talks with a delegation of visiting US senators headed by John McCain.

"He reiterated his government`s disappointment over the continuing drone attacks and persisting reluctance of the US to share drone technology with Pakistan to enable it to take on the terror centres in its border areas itself," said Pakistan`s official APP news agency.

The senators met Gilani on Friday and also held talks with President Asif Ali Zardari and Army Chief Ashfaq Kiyani after visiting Afghanistan, where US and other Western troops face a raging Afghan Taliban insurgency.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, McCain defended the drone strikes, saying they are "one of many tools that we must use to try to defeat a very determined and terrible enemy".

The United States has stepped up its attacks with the pilotless drone aircraft attacks in Pakistan since a double agent blew himself up at a US base in Afghanistan on December 30, killing seven CIA agents.

US officials say the strikes are carried out under an agreement with Islamabad that allows Pakistani leaders to criticise them in public. Pakistan denies any such agreement.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, January 9, 2010 - 13:52

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