Islamabad: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Saturday said attacks by US drones on Pakistani territory were “counter-productive” because they undermined Islamabad’s efforts to isolate militants.
“As far as drone attacks are concerned, the entire world has the same stand as Pakistan has that drone attacks are counter-productive,” Gilani told reporters in a televised press conference in the eastern city of Lahore.
“If the drone attacks had been useful, then we would have ourselves supported them.”
Gilani said missile strikes by US drones on the northwestern tribal areas bordering Afghanistan were in fact strengthening the militants.
“Our policy is to isolate militants from the local tribes, but drone attacks unite them,” Gilani said.
Gilani said Pakistan had convinced the international community about the repercussions from drone attacks and was also urging the United States to stop them.
“We have convinced the world, we have tried to convince the United States also and you will see that America would review its policy,” he said.
CIA director Leon Panetta earlier this week defended the use of unmanned aircraft to target Al-Qaeda militants and said President Barack Obama’s policies had severely disrupted the network’s leadership.
Pakistan has asked Washington for “ownership” of US drones carrying out attacks on its territory, President Asif Ali Zardari said earlier his month.
Islamabad publicly opposes drone attacks, saying they violate its territorial sovereignty and deepen resentment among the populace. Since August 2008, more than 40 such strikes have killed around 420 people.
About the ongoing military operations against Taliban militants in northwestern Swat valley and the adjoining districts of Dir and Buner, Gilani said militants would not be allowed to take the nation hostage.
“This is not possible that terrorists take us hostage and we sit at home fearing them,” Gilani said.
“We will launch military operations where the writ of the state is challenged and attempts are made to form a parallel government.”
Officials say more than 1,060 militants and more than 63 soldiers have been killed since forces launched an offensive against Taliban militants in the northwest and some 1.7 million people had been displaced due to fighting.