Drone strikes to end if Pakistan chooses: US Congressman

Published October 30, 2013
Undated handout image courtesy of the US Air Force shows a MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft. — File Photo by Reuters
Undated handout image courtesy of the US Air Force shows a MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft. — File Photo by Reuters

US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee member Congressman Alan Grayson speaking with the BBC has said that drone strikes in Pakistan could end tomorrow if the country wanted and that no such attacks take place without the approval of Pakistan, the BBC Urdu reported.

The Democrat Congressman from Florida also said that he had received no evidence from the Obama administration to suggest that there would be a drop in drone strikes carried out in Pakistan by the end of this year.

He said that had Pakistan wanted and stopped facilitating the US strikes, drone attacks on its territory "could end tomorrow".

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, during his recent trip to the US, had spoken to President Barack Obama on the drone issue after which the Pakistani government had announced that the results of the talks would be visible shortly and that the nation would see its positive effects in the coming days as the number of drone strikes would significantly be reduced by the end of this year.

Pakistan has a strong Air Force which has the power to impose a restriction on its borders whenever it chooses to, according to the Congressman who added that such attacks were not possible without the consent of the country struck.

Citing the example of Iraq, he said, the war in the Middle Eastern country ended only after the host government had asked US troops to leave its soil.

Grayson further said that it was possible that a similar situation may develop in Pakistan and only then there would be an end to drone attacks.

Moreover, he said Pakistan's armed forces were capable of tackling militants and that in such a situation the US should not have blood on its hands.

He added that there were only a handful militants in the country, whose numbers hardly run into hundreds, whereas the strength of Pakistan's military was more than a million.

"If they (Pakistan's military) wanted, they could control the situation and ease the lives of thousands of citizens."

Grayson was of the view that heirs of the innocent victims of drone attacks should receive compensation from the United States.

Earlier on Tuesday, Congressman Grayson met with the family of a Pakistani elementary school teacher, Rafiqur Rehman, whose mother was killed in a US drone strike last year.

Rafiq, who was visiting the US with his family on an invitation sent by Congressman Grayson, provided him with their accounts of the attack that killed the school teacher's 67-year-old mother, Momina Bibi in North Waziristan.

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