ISI chief tells US to stop drone strikes
Washington: Taking a tough stance on
continued drone strikes in its tribal areas, Pakistan has
asked the US to stop the unmanned spy planes used by the CIA
to target terrorists inside the country.
The official demand to discontinue the drone strikes
was conveyed by ISI chief Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha to acting
CIA Director Michael J Morel earlier this month during
former's day-long visit here to mend the strained ties between
the two countries, the Dawn newspaper reported today.
Pakistan had publicly protested the strikes but had
never officially asked the US to discontinue them, although
Pakistani leaders often complained that drones were killing
too many innocent civilians, causing anger among people.
Pasha told Morell that the raids had become a major
source of embarrassment for the Pakistani government as it was
blamed for failing to stop a foreign power from killing its
own citizens, the paper quoted diplomatic sources as saying.
Since June 18, 2004, when the CIA began the drone
strikes, the unmanned aircraft had killed more than 2,500
people, including top al Qaeda and Taliban leaders. The US spy
agency has conducted almost 250 strikes since 2004.
Those killed include al Qaeda's No. 3 Mustafa Abu
al-Yazid, his predecessor Abu Hamza Rabia, Abu Laith al-Libi,
Rashid Rauf, Abu Zubair al-Masri and Taliban chief Baitullah
The strikes have jumped from fewer than 50 in the Bush
administration, to more than 200 since President Barack Obama
took office, the paper said.
The US government, however, rejects such claims as
incorrect, insisting that drones are extraordinarily accurate.
"There hasn't been a single collateral death" since
last year, President Obama's chief counter-terrorism adviser
John Brennan said recently.