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Pak denies US bid to widen drone zones

Pakistan has rejected a US request to expand the areas where American missiles can target Taliban and al-Qaida operatives, a senior Pakistani intelligence official said on Saturday. The US has sharply increased the attacks by remote-controlled drones in Pakistani territory, launching more than 100 this year.

world Updated: Nov 20, 2010 23:21 IST

Pakistan has rejected a US request to expand the areas where American missiles can target Taliban and al-Qaida operatives, a senior Pakistani intelligence official said on Saturday. The US has sharply increased the attacks by remote-controlled drones in Pakistani territory, launching more than 100 this year.

Most have hit North Waziristan, believed to be a hide-out of senior militants who plot attacks against NATO and US troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan privately tolerates the strikes in militant strongholds near the Afghan border as a “necessary evil” but cannot sanction widening them into more-populated areas, said the official with the Pakistani military Inter Service Intelligence agency, or ISI. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

The missile attacks are rarely officially acknowledged by Washington, and Pakistan officially condemns them as a violation of its sovereignty that threatens to further turn the population against the army and central authorities. Critics condemn the program as amounting to assassinations that violate international law.