ISLAMABAD: The second US drone strike within six days in North Waziristan on Saturday prompted the government to come out with another harsh condemnation, besides making a coming meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) all the more important.
The PCNS had already been summoned to meet on Monday after a similar predator strike on an abandoned building of a girls’ high school in Miramshah on April 29 in which four people were killed.
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has been asked to brief the committee, headed by Senator Raza Rabbani, on “re-engagement with the US after recent visit of a US delegation” and “action taken by the government on the terms of engagements adopted by parliament”.
“The government of Pakistan condemns in the strongest terms the US drone attacks in North Waziristan this morning. Pakistan has consistently maintained that these illegal attacks are a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and are in contravention of international law,” says a statement issued by the Foreign Office on Saturday afternoon after the US drone strike killed 10 people. “It is our considered view that the strategic disadvantages of such attacks far outweigh their tactical advantages, and are therefore, totally counterproductive,” it said. The FO issued a similar statement after the previous drone attack.
It was the second drone strike since the adoption of the resolution by a joint session of both houses of parliament on April 12 approving new guidelines on relations with the US and linking the country’s cooperation with Washington in the ongoing war on terror with cessation of drone attacks on Pakistan’s territory.
After last month’s visit by US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman to Islamabad the White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan termed the drone attacks “legal and ethical”.
The remarks came a day after the US drone attack on April 29 in Miramshah.
Taking note of the attack and Mr Brennan’s statement, the PCNS chairman summoned the committee’s meetings on Monday and Tuesday.
Talking to Dawn on Saturday, Mr Rabbani, who is known for his anti-US sentiments, said: “We will ask Foreign Office officials to tell us what they have discussed with the US during the recent visit of Marc Grossman.”
Condemning the drone attacks, Mr Rabbani regretted that the Americans had been only paying lip-service on the question of showing respect to the parliamentary process of review of the terms of engagements. “It is sad that the US has failed to honour the voice of parliament.”
Mr Rabbani said parliament had spoken on drones not once but thrice through unanimous resolutions. “We expect the US to respect the will of the people of Pakistan manifested through parliament in its joint sittings,” he said.
“In the new terms of engagements that parliament has given approval of, it has been made abundantly clear that Pakistan treats drone attacks as clear violation of its territorial sovereignty,” he said.
Mr Rabbani said he was taken aback by the statement of the US official trying to justify the drone strikes and terming them legal and ethical. He said the US officials must go through a UN report on drone attacks. “They should realise that if they have certain red lines then Pakistan also has its own red lines.”