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Imran criticises US drone policy

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PTI Chief Imran Khan. — File Photo

LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) has noticed with concern the reports in the US media that the Pakistan government has given a free run to the United States to conduct drone strikes in the Pakistani territory.

In a press release issued here on Monday, the party expressed its dismay at the continuing drone strikes and the contemplated increase in them.

“These strikes have not reduced militancy; in fact are a major stimulant to terrorism,” said PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

“This particular fact has even been pointed out by studies carried out by Stanford and New York University law schools. Most neutral observers have also come to a similar conclusion,” he continued.

He said in the last eight years nearly 360 strikes were carried out with a large proportion, of them over 300 during the tenure of the Obama administration. A conservative estimate, according to him, is that nearly 4,000 people were killed, including a large proportion of non-combatants, women and over 200 children. These statistics tell a story not only of tragedies for the people of FATA but why there has been a huge increase in militancy.

About continuing attacks on troops and horrendous terrorist attacks in different cities, Mr Khan said the perception that Pakistan was a partner of the US in these tragic drone strikes had hugely contributed to it.

He said the US link had provided the militants with a Jihadi narrative where they had been able to paint the struggle as between Islam and infidels. “Unless we get out of this partnership with the United States, hard core nucleus of militancy will continue to use it as a motivational tool for preparing suicide bombers. It is the suicide bombers that have resulted in the tragedy of nearly 40,000 people being martyred in Pakistan,” he said.

Drone strikes, he said, were the single most visible manifestation of the US aggression for the people of FATA and they must end.

The PTI leader lambasted the Pakistan government for not standing up for the protection of its sovereignty and becoming a “willing partner” in the carnage that was continuing to kill innocent men, women and children in FATA.

“This war and the tragedies that ensue as a result of it would never end if we do not dispassionately analyse the causes behind it,” he said.