Pakistan Demands Halt to US Drone Strikes

May 15th, 2011 - by admin

The New York Times & Business Week – 2011-05-15 15:27:19

Pakistan Demands Halt to US Drone Strikes
David E. Sanger,Eric Schmitt / New York Times

NEW YORK(May 15, 2011) –The United States and Pakistan are veering toward a deep clash, with Pakistan’s parliament demanding a permanent halt to all drone strikes just as the most senior American official since the killing of Osama bin Laden is to arrive with a stern message that the country has only months to show it is truly committed to rooting out al Qaeda and associated groups.

The United States has increased drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas in the past 10 days in an effort to exploit the uncertainty and disarray among militant ranks after bin Laden’s death May 2.

The latest air strikes, on Friday, came as Pakistan’s spy chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, in a rare appearance before Pakistan’s parliament, denounced the American raid as a “sting operation.”

The parliament then passed a resolution declaring that the drone strikes were a violation of sovereignty. The lawmakers warned that Pakistan could cut supply lines to American forces in Afghanistan if there were more such attacks.

Pakistan stepped up its condemnations of the United States as Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a longtime emissary to Pakistan in times of crisis, was preparing to land in Islamabad.

He has a list of actions — and some offers from Washington to ease tensions — that he finalized in a meeting Thursday with President Obama’s national security adviser, Thomas Donilon, and other top U.S. security officials.

A senior administration official said Saturday that the United States would try to use as leverage the threat of congressional cuts to the $3 billion in annual American aid to Pakistan. Any evidence of Pakistani complicity in sheltering bin Laden that is contained in the hundreds of computer flash drives and documents recovered in the commando raid on bin Laden’s compound could also be used, the official said. So far, no such evidence has been found.

American officials say they believe the top leadership of the country was genuinely surprised about bin Laden’s whereabouts. But they strongly suspect that others in the government, the military or the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI, the main intelligence service, were aware.

(c) 2011 Hearst Communications, Inc.

Pakistan Says Terrorism Fight Must Respect Country’s Sovereignty
Paul Tighe and Haris Anwar / Business Week & Bloomberg

ISLAMABAD (May 16, 2011) — Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik said anti-terrorist operations must respect the country’s sovereignty as lawmakers condemned the US raid that killed al- Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and drone attacks in tribal areas.

“The US should listen to the voice of the people of Pakistan and stop drone attacks,” Malik said in Karachi, according to the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan. “We have to work together, even with our neighbors. Aggression in any shape will not be tolerated.”

Malik spoke after Pakistan’s upper and lower houses of Parliament passed a resolution May 14 asking the government to consider ending a transit route used by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to supply forces in Afghanistan, and to review the terms of engagement with the US over the fight against terrorism.

President Barack Obama’s decision not to inform Pakistan about the May 2 raid against bin Laden has strained ties between the countries. Pakistan’s military has been criticized by politicians, media and the public for failing to detect either bin Laden or the US commando force that killed him as he hid in Abbottabad 48 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital, Islamabad.

Obama said on CBS television on May 8 that the Pakistani government must investigate whether any of its officials helped shelter the al-Qaeda leader.

Allegations against the military “are based on miscommunication” and the army is doing a good job serving the nation, Malik said, according to APP. “Pakistan is itself a victim of terrorism, we lost over 30,000 people, including 5,000 personnel of the Army and Frontier Corps, in operations against terrorists, miscreants and militants.”

Roadside Bomb
At least six people were killed when a roadside bomb exploded May 14 near a passenger bus in Kharian, a garrison town about 125 kilometers (75 miles) southeast of the capital, Islamabad, the Dawn newspaper reported, citing police.

Pakistan’s Taliban on May 13 carried out its deadliest bombing this year, killing 80 cadets in the northwest in an attack it said was part of a campaign to avenge the death of bin Laden.

A missile strike by an unmanned US spy plane killed five people in Pakistan’s tribal area of North Waziristan three days ago, Aaj Television reported.

The US unilateral action in Abbottabad and continued drone attacks are “unacceptable” and must be stopped forthwith, the lawmakers said in their statement. The government will be obliged to “consider taking necessary steps, including withdrawal of transit facility” allowed to NATO forces if such missions don’t cease, they said.

Blocked Supplies
Pakistan in September blocked the passage of supplies for NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan after an air strike killed three Pakistani soldiers. Half of all war supplies to Afghanistan pass through Pakistan, according to the US military’s Transportation Command, at a rate of 580 truckloads per day.

The lawmakers also asked the government “to revisit and review its terms of engagement with the US, with a view to ensuring that Pakistan’s national interests are fully respected,” according to the statement.

Pakistan is a main US ally in the fight against al-Qaeda- linked militants, and the Obama administration is pressing it to cooperate more fully in the war against the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.

US Aid
Pakistan has received $14.6 billion in economic and military assistance from the US since 2005 to help revive growth and assist allied forces fighting Taliban and al-Qaeda militants.

President Asif Ali Zardari’s cooperation with Obama hasn’t been popular with Pakistanis, particularly his tolerance of US drone missile attacks on tribal areas on the Pakistani side of the border.

Pakistan’s military offensives against the Taliban and allied guerrillas have sparked retaliatory attacks in cities nationwide that killed more than 2,000 civilians and security personnel last year, according to the South Asian terrorism database of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management.

Editors: Paul Tighe, Jim McDonald. To contact the reporters on this story: Paul Tighe in Sydney at; Haris Anwar in Islamabad at

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