Pakistan lodges strong protest with US over drone attacks

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Islamabad, Nov 20 (UNI) Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani today categorically stated that there was no understanding with the US for attacks inside Pakistani territory as the foreign office summoned the American envoy to lodge strong protest over drone attacks.

''Being chief executive of this country, I want to assure you that there is no understanding (with the US),'' he said while speaking in the National Assembly.

He said this a day after a US drone attack in Bannu district in the Northwestern Frontier Province killed five people, mostly Arab nationals.

The Prime Minister said if there was any such understanding of former President Pervez Musharraf's regime with the US, then the foreign office or the government has no such record.

''Mr Musharraf at that time was wearing two hats...therefore all the decisions at that time were one-man show,'' he said Mr Gilani said the former President never bothered to take Parliament into confidence over this issue or initiate a debate over the national security situation.

The present government, he added, not only debated the national security issue in Parliament but also passed a joint resolution as they believed in supremacy of the democratic institutions.

He said the National Security Advisor was in constant touch with his US counterpart and conveying concern of Pakistani nation to the US authorities.

''These (attacks) are adding to our problems...they are intolerable and we do not support them rather condemn them,'' the Prime Minister said.

Dozens of people have been killed in at least 20 missile strikes on Pakistani tribal regions since August this year.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W Patterson was summoned to the foreign ministry and a strong protest was lodged over yesterday's missile strike in Bannu.

''Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir conveyed to Ms Patterson Pakistan's strong condemnation and underscored that such attacks were violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity,'' foreign office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq told a press briefing in Islamabad today.

He said it was emphasised that continued drone attacks undermined public support for government's counterterrorism efforts, adding the foreign secretary stressed that these attacks must be stopped.

UNI XC SKB PK KP1746

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