Pakistan protests toUS over air strikes

Published January 25, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Jan 24: Pakistan on Saturday lodged a strong protest with the new US administration over continuing drone attacks, terming them an infringement of the country’s sovereignty and calling for a review of the policy.

“Yesterday’s attacks in the Waziristan area which caused civilian causalities are a matter of great concern. These concerns have been conveyed to the US,” a Foreign Office spokesman said in a statement.

Although, the Foreign Office was reluctant to reveal the name of the person who made the protest, sources said the outrage was communicated by Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir to US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson.

President Asif Ali Zardari in his meeting with Ambassador Patterson also conveyed Islamabad’s concerns.

Twenty-two people were killed in two missile strikes in Waziristan on Friday.

The two missile strikes, coming three days after the new administration assumed office, are being taken as an indication that President Obama has endorsed drone attacks on Pakistan.

President Obama, during his campaign for the White House, had called for attacks against high-value targets in Pakistan.

The outgoing administration had increased the frequency of drone attacks in the dying weeks — about two dozen attacks occurring over five months. Some top Al Qaeda leaders were killed in these attacks.

Islamabad has consistently lodged strong protests with Washington over the attacks, describing them as an infringement of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

“We maintain that these attacks are counter-productive and should be discontinued,” the spokesman said.

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