Former Pakistan PM, officials deny US drone collusion

ISLAMABAD (TIP): Pakistani officials and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on October 23 denied a report that they had approved US drone strikes on the country’s soil.Washington Post on october 21 quoted leaked secret documents as saying Pakistan had been regularly briefed on strikes up till late 2011 and in some cases had helped choose targets.The purported evidence of Islamabad’s involvement came as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met US President Barack Obama at the White House and urged him to end the attacks, which are widely unpopular with the Pakistani public.A Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman said the anti-drone stance of the Sharif government, elected in May, was clear and any past agreements no longer applied. Pakistani security officials claimed the story was a US attempt to undermine Sharif’s position and reduce criticism of the drone campaign, days after an Amnesty International report warned some of the strikes could constitute war crimes.Washington Post’s revelations concerned strikes in a four-year period from late 2007, when military ruler Pervez Musharraf was in power, to late 2011 when a civilian government had taken over. Gilani, prime minister from 2008 until June last year, vehemently denied giving any approval for drone strikes. “We have never allowed Americans to carry out drone attacks in the tribal areas,” Gilani told AFP. “From the very beginning we are against drone strikes and we have conveyed it to Americans at all forums,” he added. Islamabad routinely condemns the strikes targeting suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants in its northwest tribal areas. But evidence of collusion or tacit approval has leaked out in recent years.

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