PERTH, Oct 29: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani categorically said on Saturday that no permission had been granted to the United States to launch drone attacks on targets inside Pakistan.

“There is no such permission,” he told a large group of Pakistani expatriates.

Mr Gilani, who is in Australia on a four-day visit to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, said drone attacks were counter-productive because they caused collateral damage and undermined the government’s efforts to garner support against extremists and terrorists.

He said the drone attacks were one of the reasons why relations between Pakistan and the US had deteriorated in recent months.

He said Pakistan had also conveyed to the US that unilateral military operation like that of May 2 to get Osama bin Laden would not be acceptable.

Mr Gilani said there had been a tremendous change in the country’s foreign and security policies as a result of “the vindication of his vision of three Ds — dialogue, development and deterrence”. “There has been a paradigm shift in the policy of a democratic government and that of a dictatorial regime,” he said, adding that now the people of Pakistan and parliament were the ultimate stakeholders who could take decisions of national importance.

“Unlike the policies of the past when things started rolling with a single telephone call from the United States, now we seek mandate of the parliament and take decisions with consensus.”

The rime minister said it was for the first time that the army chief and the ISI director general had briefed parliament on the security situation.

He said the Swat operation had been carried out after the reluctance of Taliban leaders to honour their commitment of not indulging in any unlawful activity. “Their defiance led me to take army operation against the militants and the people wholeheartedly supported the government.”

He criticised opposition leaders and said they were trying to take political mileage by blowing up everything out of proportion and confusing the masses. “But they will not succeed because people know their politicking against democracy and indeed against the country. If anyone has some problem he should either go to courts or take political trajectory and contest the next election on the basis of issues, not merely sloganeering.”—APP

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