ISLAMABAD - Apparently in a belated but calculated reaction, Pakistan strongly condemned Thursday the two incidents of drone strikes near Miranshah in North Waziristan which reportedly killed at least 16 foreign militants amid suspicions the two countries coordinated over the attack in the aftermath of a Taliban siege of Karachi airport.
Reports earlier quoted two unnamed government officials as saying Islamabad had given the Americans ‘express approval’ for the strikes. Underlining Pakistan’s alarm over the brazen Taliban attack on the airport, just weeks after peace talks with the militants stalled, the top officials told Reuters a ‘joint Pakistan-US operation’ had been ordered to hit the insurgents.
Another official said Pakistan had asked the United States for help after the attack on the country’s busiest airport on Sunday, and would be intensifying air strikes on militant hideouts in coming days.
“The attacks were launched with the express approval of the Pakistan government and army,” said a top government official, requesting not to be named as he was not authorised to discuss the issue with the media.
“It is now policy that the Americans will not use drones without permission from the security establishment here. There will be complete coordination and Pakistan will be in the loop.
“We understand that drones will be an important part of our fight against the Taliban now,” the official added.
However, the Foreign Office issued a tersely-worded statement condemning the strikes as “a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
“Additionally, these strikes have a negative impact on the government’s efforts to bring peace and stability in Pakistan and the region,” the statement said.
FO Spokeswoman told AFP that rumours of Pakistan requesting the attack were “speculation”.
Tasnim Aslam did not confirm the strikes in North Waziristan as drone attacks, but said Pakistan’s position on drones was clear.
During a briefing of the FO, when asked about the successive Mir Ali aerial strikes, she said the facts surrounding the attack were being determined.
The US drone strikes took place within hours of each other as militants gathered to dig out the bodies and search for the injured.
Reports also said a key Haqqani network commander Haji Gul was killed in the early morning US drone strike in Dand-i Darpakhel area of North Waziristan Agency.
The drone strike also killed other prominent Afghan Taliban commanders identified as Mufti Sofian and Commander Abu Bakar, media reported.
Some other commanders killed in the second strike have been identified as Commander Yasin Gardezi, Abdullah Khan, Commander Jamil, Commander Asadullah. Their driver Noor Khan was also killed.