(AFP) – Apr 13, 2011
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan Wednesday strongly condemned the latest US drone strike in the country's tribal belt, saying such attacks were counterproductive and boosted the cause of militants.
US drones resumed missile attacks in Pakistan for the first time in a month, killing six fighters from the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network on the Afghan border, officials said.
"Pakistan strongly condemns the drone attack at Angoor Adda today (Wednesday)," the foreign ministry said.
"We have repeatedly said that such attacks are counterproductive and only contribute to strengthen the hands of the terrorists," a statement from the ministry said.
"Drone attacks have become a core irritant in the counter-terror campaign. Pakistan has taken up the matter with the US at all levels," it said.
Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir had lodged a "strong protest" with US Ambassador Cameron Munter, it added.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also criticised the covert US drone campaign, saying it undermined anti-terror efforts.
Gilani said his government had convinced other countries through diplomatic channels that "these drone attacks are creating problems for us."
Efforts to isolate militants from their tribal support base were being undermined by the strikes in the lawless tribal region bordering Afghanistan, he said in a speech at the federal parliament.
"Under a well thought-out strategy we had separated the tribes from militants, but when drone attacks occur, militants and tribes unite again," Gilani said.
He has called for an end to drone strikes a number of times in the past and criticised the campaign as an infringement on Pakistani sovereignty.
Gilani emphasised Pakistan's importance in the war on terror and the fight against Taliban militants.
"Nobody can win the Afghanistan war without Pakistan. Drone attacks are not in favour of both countries," he said.
In Wednesday's attack, unmanned aircraft fired four missiles into a vehicle travelling through the South Waziristan district.
The strike came just one day after a Washington meeting between the chief of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency and Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, which runs the drone war.
It was the first missile strike since March 17, when Pakistan's civilian and military leaders strongly protested over a US drone attack that killed 39 people, including civilians and police.
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