Pak seeks US explanation on manual allowing CIA to launch drone strikes in country
Pakistan has asked the US to halt its highly controversial drone campaign following reports that US President Barack Obama's administration was planning to give the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) a "free hand" to continue its remotely-controlled war in tribal regions.
According to a foreign ministry official, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar raised the issue in a meeting with Richard Olson, the US ambassador in Islamabad, reports The Express Tribune.
Khar voiced her concern over reports that the CIA would step up its drone campaign in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, the official said.
She also urged Olson to explain his government's position on the new "playbook" for targeted killings, which would not apply to Pakistan. This, according to The Washington Post, means the CIA will continue to hunt for al Qaeda and its Taliban cohorts in the tribal regions for a year or so before the new rules become applicable to it.
Khar said Pakistan has repeatedly raised its concerns on drone strikes. They are proving counter-productive in the war against terrorism, she added. A clear-cut opinion was emerging in the entire world, including the US, against drone strikes, she added. At the same time, the world is also raising concerns over the civilian casualties in drone strikes.
According to the statistics of the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 2,627 and 3,457 people - including between 475 and 900 civilians - have been reportedly killed by US drones in Pakistan since 2004.