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Thousands protest U.S drone attacks on Pakistani soil

Thousands of Islamists protested in Pakistan's southern city of Karachi on Sunday (February 22) against U.S missile attacks in the country's tribal area. Holding banners, placards and Jamat-e-Islami party flags they marched several kilometres through the main street in the city. One banner read, 'Oh Eagles of Pakistan Air Force! Target U.S drones, not your...

SAMAA | - Posted: Feb 22, 2009 | Last Updated: 12 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Feb 22, 2009 | Last Updated: 12 years ago
Thousands protest U.S drone attacks on Pakistani soil

Thousands of Islamists protested in Pakistan's southern city of
Karachi on Sunday (February 22) against U.S missile attacks in the country's
tribal area.
Holding banners, placards and Jamat-e-Islami party flags they marched
several kilometres through the main street in the city. One banner read, 'Oh
Eagles of Pakistan Air Force! Target U.S drones, not your own people'. 'Close
the American bases in Pakistan', read another. “Down with U.S.A”
read a placard.
“We totally condemn this. They are innocent people. This is very
very insulting for a country like America that innocent persons are being
targeted like this. We request them to abstain from such things,” said
Professor Ghafoor Ahmad, a central leader of Jama-e-Islami, a major Islamic
party in Pakistan.
Frustrated over what it sees as Pakistan's failure to stem the flow of
al Qaeda and Taliban militants from its lawless tribal regions into
Afghanistan, the United States stepped up cross-border attacks last year.
The United States carried out about 30 attacks on suspected militants
with missiles fired by pilotless drones in 2008, according to a Reuters tally,
more than half after the beginning of September.
The attacks killed more than 220 people, including foreign militants,
according to a tally of reports from Pakistani intelligence agents, district
government officials and residents.
Pakistan objects to the attacks, saying they are a violation of its
territory and undermine its efforts to tackle militants.
It had hoped the new U.S. administration would review the policy
although during his election campaign, now U.S. President Barack Obama had
spoken of the possibility of strikes into Pakistan if the Pakistani military
was unwilling or unable to tackle them.
At least 15 people were killed in Pakistan's Kurram tribal region on
the Afghan border last Monday when a suspected U.S. drone fired missiles at a
building used by militants.
This was the fourth attack since Obama took office last month, showing
there was no change in policy since the last year of the Bush administration,
when attacks by pilotless aircraft against militant targets on Pakistani
territory were ramped up.
Pakistan's civilian government, elected a year ago, and the army have
complained that the U.S. missile strikes are counterproductive and have fanned
an Islamist insurgency across northwest Pakistan .
A senior U.S. lawmaker, Senator Dianne Feinstein, kicked off a fresh
controversy when she told a Senate hearing last week that drones were being
operated and flown from an air base inside Pakistan. But, Pakistan Foreign
Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi denied the statement and said the drones
carrying out these attacks were not operating from Pakistan. -REUTERS

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