Pakistan summons US diplomat over drone strike
01 May, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday summoned a senior US diplomat to the Foreign Ministry, and lodged a formal protest over the US drone attack in North Waziristan, which had killed at least three people a few days ago.
On Sunday, a drone fired two missiles on a house in Miranshah, North Waziristan, days after parliament called for an immediate halt to drone strikes in new approved guidelines for future relationship with the United States.
"US Political Counselor Jonathan Pratt was summoned at the Foreign Office by America Director General Suhail Khan," the Foreign Ministry said. "Protest was lodged over yesterday's US drone attack," the Foreign Office spokesman said in a statement.
No comments were available from the US embassy. Sunday's strike was second in North Waziristan in a month despite strong opposition by Pakistan.
The Foreign Ministry, in an earlier statement, said the issue of American drones strikes will be taken up with the US authorities through diplomatic channels both in Islamabad and Washington.
"The government of Pakistan strongly condemns the US drone attack that occurred in North Waziristan," a Foreign Ministry statement said. "Such attacks are in total contravention of international law and established norms of interstate relations."
The statement said Islamabad had consistently maintained that drone attacks violated its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
But, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani struck a moderate tone on Monday when he seemed to link the strikes to the continued ability of terrorists fighting the government and international forces in Afghanistan to operate on Pakistan's territory.
He pointed out that the resolution passed by parliament also stipulated that foreign fighters must be expelled from the country and Pakistani soil should not be used to attack other countries.
"So, when we plan a strategy (with the US), all these aspects would be discussed," said Gilani.
Drone attacks fully legal: US
The deadly US campaign of drone strikes against al Qaeda is fully legal under international law, President Barack Obama's counter terrorism chief insisted on Monday in the most extensive justification of a controversial tactic that has eliminated some of the most-wanted terrorists.
Speaking on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the US killing of Osama bin Laden in a raid in Pakistan, the White House aide, John Brennan, said the US administration holds itself to a "rigorous" review process in deciding on drone targets in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The bin Laden commando raid and unmanned air strikes in Pakistan have severely strained relations between Washington and Islamabad. "I'm here today because President Obama has instructed us to be more open with the American people about these efforts," Brennan said in a speech to a Washington think tank.