Pakistani PM suggests drone share deal with US

The CIA could continue drone strikes "under our supervision”, Pak PM said.

Last Updated: May 13, 2011, 12:46 PM IST

Washington: Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani offered on Thursday to support US drone attacks on its soil if Pakistan is let in on the decision-making and allowed to share the technology.

Drone strikes inflame anti-American feeling in Pakistan, which has worsened since a CIA contractor shot dead two Pakistani men in a busy Lahore street in January, and over the perceived impunity of the May 02 Osama bin Laden raid.

In an interview with Time magazine, Gilani said the drone war weakened efforts to rally the public against extremism but stepped away from the usual rhetoric that they constituted a complete violation of Pakistani sovereignty.

"No one can win a war without the support of the public," he said. "I say that this is my war, but when drones strike, the people ask, `Whose war is this, then?`”

"A drone strategy can be worked out," Gilani said. "If drone strikes are effective, then we should evolve a common strategy to win over public opinion. Our position is that the technology should be transferred to us."

The CIA could continue drone strikes "under our supervision”, the Pakistani Prime Minister suggested.

The US strikes doubled last year under President Barack Obama, with more than 100 drone attacks killing over 670 people, according to a tally, and the CIA says the covert program has severely disrupted al Qaeda`s leadership.

In the latest reported strike, a US drone fired two missiles into a vehicle in Pakistan`s tribal district of North Waziristan on Thursday, killing at least five suspected militants, local security officials said.

It was the third such attack in Pakistan`s tribal badlands on the Afghan border since US commandos last week killed bin Laden in an audacious raid in the garrison city of Abbottabad, just 40 miles (65 kilometres) from Islamabad.

Washington does not confirm drone attacks, but its military and the CIA operating in Afghanistan are the only forces that deploy them in the region.

The Pentagon said last month it was considering providing unmanned drones to Pakistan for aerial surveillance.

The plan being studied would provide Pakistan with several dozen of the smaller drones which are equipped with cameras but not with the capability to fire missiles, unlike the Predator or Reaper aircraft used by US forces.

Bureau Report