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Pakistan Summons U.S. Envoy Over Drone Attack

  • RFE/RL

U.S. charge d'affaires in Pakistan Richard Hoagland (file photo)

U.S. charge d'affaires in Pakistan Richard Hoagland (file photo)

Pakistan's new government has summoned a top United States envoy to express its displeasure following a U.S. drone strike that intelligence officials said killed at least seven people.

Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said a protest was lodged with U.S. charge d'affaires Richard Hoagland on June 8.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry told reporters that the protest was lodged on the orders of the new administration.

"Given the fact that this drone strike has taken place after the installation of the new government, the importance of this particular protest can be gauged from the fact that the Prime Minister [Nawaz Sharif] himself gave the instructions and this was delivered at a very high level," he said.

The missile strike late on June 7, on a compound in the North Waziristan region near the Afghan border, which is a known stronghold for Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants, was the first U.S. drone attack in Pakistan since Nawaz Sharif was sworn in as prime minister on June 5.

Sharif has insisted that the United States stop such attacks, saying they violate Pakistan's sovereignty.

Speaking to lawmakers June 5, he said that the "chapter of these daily drone attacks now must come to an end." But he also called for "addressing" the security concerns of others about threats emanating from Pakistan.

U.S. President Barack Obama said last month that the United States would scale back drone strikes, only using them when a threat was "continuing and imminent."

Chaudhry indicated that Islamabad doubts the efficacy of the drone strikes.

"We do hope that the U.S. government would see merit in the protest that the government of Pakistan has lodged, and the argument that we are making that this is counterproductive, and violates our sovereignty," he said. "[It] is against international law and does not serve the very purpose for which the two countries have been cooperating in the fight against terrorism."

Washington has launched hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004. The frequency of these attacks has fallen significantly this year.

With reporting by Reuters and AP