Pakistan slams US drone attacks in Pakistan
Islamabad has condemned the drone strikes by the United States against alleged militants on Pakistani soil, describing them as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
“Our position is that drone strikes are counter-productive and violate the sovereignty of Pakistan,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria said on Thursday.
The remark came after media published reports of a planned increase in US drone strikes in the region.
Washington claims Islamabad is providing safe haven to the Taliban and other militants fighting the US-backed government in Afghanistan. To counter the threat caused by the militants, US officials recently revealed that Washington aimed to harden its stance toward Pakistan and devise a new policy for Afghanistan.
The US has been using hundreds of drones to conduct surveillance flights and airstrikes since Washington and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
The drone strikes, which started under the administration of former US President George W. Bush in 2004, were escalated during former US president Barack Obama’s term in office.
The US also carries out drone strikes in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya.
US President Donald Trump recently gave new orders to launch drone strikes across various parts of the world in line with Washington’s so-called war on terror.
Islamabad, which denies giving support to the Taliban, has repeatedly condemned such strikes in Pakistan in public.
However, purported US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks in 2011 said that the Pakistani military secretly condoned the strikes on Taliban militants within Pakistan.
World bodies and eyewitnesses say civilians, including children, have fallen victim to the US drone attacks.
The US last year withheld some financial aid to Pakistan because of dissatisfaction with Islamabad’s lack of action against militants. US officials say Trump also plans to hold back some assistance.
Zakaria, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said, “Pakistan attaches importance to its relationship with the US.”
“We firmly believe that continued close cooperation between our two countries is critical for promoting peace and security in the region and beyond,” he said even as he censured the US drone strikes in his country.