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Central & South Asia

Pakistan urges US to end drone strikes

US and Pakistan 'discuss end of aerial CIA attacks on Pakistani territory,' senior foreign ministry official says.
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2013 15:17
US drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas are believed to have killed thousands of people [GALLO/GETTY]

Pakistan is holding talks with the United States to end drone strikes against suspected Taliban fighters, which sometimes also kill civilians, a senior Pakistani official has said.

"Drone attacks are against sovereignty of Pakistan, against international law and against the UN charter," Jalil Abbas Jilani, the administrative head of Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry told members of Parliament in Islamabad, the capital.

"Innocent people have been killed in these attacks," Jilani said on Friday, adding; "We are having talks with the US to stop the drone attacks and we hope for a positive outcome of the dialogue and hope that drone attacks will stop."

The attacks, which are operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), have strained Pakistan's relations with the US. Pakistan says the attacks violate its sovereignty.

'Last resort'

Jilani estimated that US drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan have killed 1,900 to 3,000 people. Some 80 percent of the victims were suspected al-Qaeda-linked fighters, according to Jilani.

"US says that al-Qaeda has been eliminated to a large extent due to these attacks; it has been reduced and will be further reduced in coming days," he said.

His briefing to Parliament came just a day after John Brennan, the White House candidate to head the CIA, defended the use of drone strikes against armed groups around the world.

Brennan told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the CIA and other national security agencies believe that drones were the last resort to defend US security.

Pakistan has not formally reacted to Brennan's remarks.

Estimates vary of the number of alleged fighters and civilians killed in drone strikes, which have risen since Obama took office in 2009.

According to Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 2,634 to 3,468 people have been killed in 363 drone strikes in Pakistan from 2004 to 2013, including 473 to 893 civilians.

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