Pakistan Repeats Condemnation of Drone Strikes Following Obama’s Remarks

Posted January 31st, 2012 at 12:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Pakistan has repeated its condemnation of U.S. drone strikes a day after President Barack Obama for the first time publicly acknowledged the use of such attacks against militants in Pakistan.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told VOA on Tuesday that the U.S. missiles strikes are a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty. He called the attacks illegal, counterproductive and unacceptable.

Mr. Obama confirmed during an online town hall discussion Monday that drones have been used to target al-Qaida and its affiliates. He said many of the attacks have been in Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

The president defended the operations, which have greatly increased during his administration, saying they are used for “very precise, precision strikes” in the fight against al-Qaida.

“This is a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities and bases, and so on. It is important for everybody to understand that this thing is kept on a very tight leash.”

In a rare public discussion of the Central Intelligence Agency's usually covert operations, Mr. Obama stressed that the drone strikes have not killed a “huge number of civilians.”

The Washington-based New America Foundation says drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between 1,700 and 2,700 people in the past eight years.

Despite the Pakistani government's public condemnation of the attacks, they are believed to be carried out with the help of Pakistani intelligence.

Until Monday, U.S. officials had never confirmed the missile strikes against militants in Pakistan's tribal areas, but they have anonymously confirmed such attacks to various news outlets.