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article imageOp-Ed: Ambassador denies Pakistan agreed to U.S. drone strikes

By Ken Hanly     Jul 11, 2012 in Politics
Islamabad - Soon after Pakistan reopened NATO transit routes the U.S. launched drone strikes. Many thought this implied Pakistan had agreed to the strikes. Ambassador to the U.S. Sherry Rehman denies this and claims that Pakistan still opposes the strikes.
NATO supply routes running through Pakistan to Afghanistan had been closed by Pakistan after 24 Pakistani troops were killed in a border incident last November. Among the conditions for reopening the routes was a U.S. apology for the incident as well as cessation of drone attacks.
Hillary Clinton did apologize and shortly afterwards Pakistan reopened the transit routes. However there was no cessation of drone attacks, one of the other conditions set for reopening the routes. Soon after the routes were reopened drone attacks were launched.
The Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Sherry Rehman said; “The concerns over drones can’t just be brushed aside." Those concerns can be brushed aside and have been brushed aside by the U.S. The U.S. has consistently said that drone strikes will not stop. Leon Panetta the U.S. Secretary of Defense made this clear.
Ignoring Pakistan's protests, the US today said the drone attacks against al-Qaeda will continue in that country...
"We have made it very clear to Pakistani leaders that we will continue to defend ourselves," Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said during an interaction at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) here.
The Pakistani parliament has passed several resolutions demanding the attacks stop but to no avail. The U.S. and drone strikes are very unpopular in Pakistan. Consider some of the statistics.
The survey conducted by the Global Attitudes project of PEW Research Centre showed that 97 percent of respondents oppose U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.
Ninety-four percent of people believe the attacks kill too many innocent people, the Express Tribune reports.
According to the survey, nearly three-quarters, 74 percent, said that drone strikes are not necessary to defend Pakistan from extremist organisations.
Pakistani politicians are aware of these attitudes and respond by often using strong anti-U.S. rhetoric. However behind the scenes they may take a quite different stance. The U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter recently claimed that opposition leaders Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan both said that they would form a pro-U.S. government if elected and would also cooperate fully in the war on terror. To cooperate fully in the war on terror with the U.S. would involve approving drone strikes.
In the past there has obviously been cooperation and tacit approval of drone strikes. A 2008 meeting with Syed Gilani who was then prime minister illustrates the hypocrisy of some Pakistani politicians. A Wikileaks cable reveals an exchange with a U.S. representative. Gilani dismisses any concerns about Predator drone attacks in tribal areas.
"I don't care if they do it as long as they get the right people. We'll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it," he told Ms Patterson.
In the past there was obviously a tacit agreement on drone strikes between the U.S. and Pakistan. Given what is happening the future seems destined to be like the past. We even have the same protests with the same results.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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