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Furious Pakistan slams deadly US drone strikes

Last updated on: March 18, 2011 15:54 IST

Furious Pakistan slams deadly US drone strikes

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Pakistan on Friday demanded an 'apology and explanation' from the United States for drone strikes in its tribal belt that Pakistani officials said killed 41 people, including members of a tribal jirga and personnel from a government militia force.

"The government of Pakistan strongly condemns (the) drone attacks, which have resulted in a large number of casualties. This is not only unacceptable but also a flagrant violation of all humanitarian rules and norms," Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said in a statement issued after midnight.

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir had conveyed "this strong condemnation to US Ambassador Cameron Munter" and "demanded an apology and explanation", Janjua said.

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Image: A US drone in action

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In Washington, Pakistan's Ambassador Hussain Haqqani too made a 'strong demarche' with the US State Department and registered a protest over the deadly drone attack, describing it as 'unacceptable' and a 'flagrant violation' of humanitarian norms and laws.

Haqqani too 'demanded an apology and explanation' from the US government on yesterday's attack in Datta Khel region near Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan agency.

The attack was the deadliest drone strike in North Waziristan Agency since August 2008 and the seventh such attack in nine days.



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President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani strongly condemned the drone attack.

In a statement, Gilani said the attack "will only strengthen the hands of radical and extremist elements".

Gilani said, 'such irrational behaviour negatively impact the efforts to separate the militants from the peaceful and patriotic tribesmen' and that 'such attacks will bode very negatively on our joint efforts to eliminate the menace of terrorism'.


Image: Pakistani villagers pick up rocket fragments after a drone strike
Photographs: Reuters
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Kayani, in a strongly worded statement, said: "It is highly regrettable that a jirga of peaceful citizens, including elders of the area, was carelessly and callously targeted with complete disregard to human life."

He added that 'such acts of violence take us away from our objective of elimination of terrorism'.


Image: A Pakistani tribesman from North Waziristan tribal region holds a placard during a protest near the parliament house in Islamabad
Photographs: Mian Khursheed/Reuters
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Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Masood Kausar, who is responsible for the administration of the tribal areas, said the drones targeted a tribal council and killed tribesmen and members of the local government militia force.

The attack by the CIA-operated spy planes came a day after a Pakistani court pardoned and freed American security contractor Raymond Davis, whose arrest in January on murder charges had taken ties between the two countries to a new low.


Image: An unarmed US 'Shadow' drone is launched in this undated photograph
Photographs: Reuters
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Davis was freed after over two million dollars was paid as "blood money" to the families of two men he had gunned down.

Davis's release has paved the way for Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's visit to the US and both countries have started working on dates and the agenda for the trip.

The US had called off a trilateral meeting with Pakistan and Afghanistan after Davis was arrested in Lahore in January for shooting and killing two men. The development also resulted in a delay in Zardari's planned visit to the US sometime early this month.

Officials said Zardari is likely to visit the US next month.


Image: File photo shows Raymond Davis being escorted out of a Lahore court
Photographs: Reuters
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