Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Pakistan Calls for an End to Drone Strikes

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Pakistan Calls for an End to Drone Strikes

Article excerpt

The demand sets a tough tone for a debate that the United States hopes will prompt a resumption of full diplomatic relations and the reopening of NATO supply lines through Pakistan.

A major parliamentary review of relations with the United States opened on Tuesday with calls for an end to drone strikes and an unconditional apology for a U.S. attack on Pakistani soldiers last November.

The demands, which were read to Parliament by the chairman of a cross-party national security committee, set a tough tone for a debate that the United States hopes will prompt a resumption of full diplomatic relations and the reopening of NATO supply lines through Pakistan.

"The U.S. must review its footprints in Pakistan," said the five- page document, which read like a laundry list of Pakistani requests to the Obama administration. "No overt or covert operations inside Pakistan shall be tolerated," it stated.

U.S. hopes that the parliamentary review would conclude by the end of this week suffered a setback when the speaker adjourned the debate until Monday, ostensibly to allow the opposition to consider its position.

There was another possible reason: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is locked in a bruising confrontation with the senior judiciary that is due to resume in the Supreme Court on Wednesday and which could, under one scenario, see him resign by the weekend.

Stressing that the United States should respect Pakistani "sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity," the committee called on the C.I.A. to halt its drone strike campaign in the tribal belt, which has resulted in at least 265 attacks since January 2008.

In the future, it added, there should be no American "hot pursuit or boots on Pakistani territory" -- a possible reference to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011 -- and tighter controls on foreign security companies operating in the country.

The military and civilian leaders of Pakistan are hoping to leverage anger at the November shooting incident, in which U.S. warplanes killed 24 soldiers in strikes along the northwestern border with Afghanistan, to gain concessions from the United States. …

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