Thursday, January 29, 2009

PAKISTAN PRIME MINISTER SAYS DRONE ATTACKS NOT APPROVED

CNN - Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has called on the United States to halt its drone attacks against al Qaeda and Taliban fighters on Pakistani soil and warned that the missile strikes were fueling militarism in the country's troubled tribal border region. . . . Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has remained in the post despite the change of government, said that Pakistan was aware of U.S. strikes against militants within its territory -- but Gilani strenuously denied that any agreement existed between Islamabad and Washington.

"I want to put on record that we do not have any agreement between the government of the United States and the government of Pakistan," Gilani told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in an interview at the World Economic Forum.

"If there are any drone attacks these would be counter-productive... Therefore we ask that if they have credible and actionable information, they share it with our intelligence agencies and we will take action ourselves."

Gilani said that ongoing Pakistani army operations against the militants were backed by the region's local population, but warned that missile attacks jeopardized tribal support for the government and urged President Obama to "respect the sovereignty of Pakistan."