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Pak opposition asks govt to shoot down US drones

Islamabad: Pakistan's opposition lawmakers have demanded that the government should target US drones if they violate the country's sovereignty. "The government, as a last resort, should target drones — as we're capable of (shooting down these unmanned aircraft)," Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's Shireen Mazari told the parliament.

"It's a defining movement for the government to convey a louder message to the US that drones are counterproductive and not acceptable to us," Mazari was quoted as saying by the Express Tribune during a National Assembly session yesterday. Jamat-e-Islami lawmaker Tariqullah endorsed her views.

A US drone. Reuters.

A US drone. Reuters.

"We should shoot down drones. We're capable of doing this," he said, recalling that a top military official once said the military has the capability to shoot down drones, if the government orders so. However, other lawmakers advised the government to avoid confrontation with the US and pursue the proposed peace plan with the Taliban, the report said.

A "drone" was successfully shot down as part of a military exercise earlier this week. The CIA's drone campaign is an emotional issue in Pakistan. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raised the issue with US President Barack Obama during their meeting on October 23. However, the US says the strikes are precision attacks that have killed many top militants and terrorists.

On November 1, Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a US drone strike in the lawless North Waziristan tribal region. Pakistani politicians, except a few handful, have criticised the strike saying it was deliberately done to scuttle the peace talks with the Taliban. Extreme right
parties have even gone to the extent of calling Mehsud as a "martyr".

However, security analysts and former military officers are happy that Pakistan's number one enemy has been killed. Meanwhile, the National Assembly continued to discuss the recent drone attack in North Waziristan. Initiating the debate, Qari Muhammad Yusuf strongly criticised the US' regional policy saying it never fulfilled commitments made to Pakistan.

He said certain elements want to create a gulf between the people and the government and we should stand united to foil these designs. Ayaz Soomro said the government should hold dialogue with the Taliban under the constitutional ambit. Earlier‚ Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid tabled the Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 and Protection of Pakistan Ordinance 2013 before the House.

PTI

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