‘Drone strikes never allowed’

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. - File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said US drone strikes targeting Al Qaeda and Taliban militants are counter-productive and his government has not given permission for such attacks.

“First of all I want to inform you that we did not allow or give permission to fly drones from Pakistan,” Mr Gilani told Al Jazeera television.

“Drones are counter-productive and we have discussed it thoroughly with the US administration.”

He said the “collateral damage” from drone attacks was counter-productive because it undermined his government’s efforts to separate tribes from militants, and also violated Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Mr Gilani said former military ruler Pervez Musharraf had “some understanding” on drone attacks with the United States.

He said he had “good relations” with the military “at the moment”. That was a reference to tensions pitting the civilian government against the military over a memo sent to the Pentagon seeking US help in preventing a feared military coup after the US commando raid in Pakistan that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Mr Gilani said Pakistan would support any Afghan-led peace initiative and did not back the Afghan Taliban to take over. “We are not supporting them. It’s not our job. Why should we support them?”

He said that India and Pakistan could not afford more conflict and were ready to discuss the issues that have long hampered the normalisation of relations.—Agencies

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