Drone attacks in Pakistan will continue: Panetta
07 June, 2012
NEW DELHI: Pentagon chief Leon Panetta said on Wednesday the US would continue to launch drone attacks against al Qaeda in Pakistan despite complaints from Islamabad that the strikes violate its sovereignty.
"We have made it very clear that we are going to continue to defend ourselves," US Defence Secretary Panetta said in India.
"This is about our sovereignty as well," Panetta added, arguing that al Qaeda terrorists who orchestrated the September 11 attacks on the US were in Pakistan's Tribal Areas. "The leadership of those who were involved in planning this attack are located in Pakistan, in the FATA," he said.
Panetta also acknowledged that India and the US had "often deep" differences with Pakistan but said New Delhi and Washington needed to work to overcome them.
"Pakistan is a complicated relationship for both of our countries but one that we must work to improve," he said in a speech at a think-tank. "India and the United States will need to continue to engage Pakistan, overcoming our respective – and often deep – differences with Pakistan to make all of South Asia peaceful and prosperous," he added.
Drone attacks violation of human rights: Gilani
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Wednesday said that drone strikes were a violation of human rights because innocent people, including children and women, get killed in such attacks.
He was talking to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanthem Pillay, who called on him to congratulate him on being the longest serving prime minister of Pakistan.
The PM drew the attention of the UN high commissioner to the 3.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, and urged that their repatriation would help Pakistan deal with terrorists. "The movement of refugees in their thousands on borders makes it difficult to identify as to who is a tourist and who is a terrorist."
Pillay promised to bring the issue to the notice of the UNHCR. She appreciated 'Zero Tolerance Policy' of the PM against terrorism and extremism, saying that the political will would further make the difference in the real sense by thwarting the tendencies, detrimental to the social development.
She said democratic reforms in Pakistan were convincingly encouraging, and hoped that state institutions would function keeping in view the trichotomy of power.