Pakistan will lodge a protest over missile strikes by American drones in its northwestern tribal areas during a visit by US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke next week, foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said on Thursday.
“Pakistan intends to make a demarche to the US on the issue,” Basit told a weekly news briefing. “Mr Holbrooke is scheduled to visit Pakistan next week and this issue would come up for our discussions,” he added.
Pakistan cannot accept drone attacks inside its territory as they are a violation of the country’s sovereignty. The strikes are also counter-productive for the government’s efforts to win over the hearts and minds of the people in the war against terror, he said.
Basit’s comments came a day after a missile strike in the Aurakzai tribal region killed at least 12 people, including Taliban and foreign fighters. Pakistan has called for ending the drone attacks as part of the review of the US policy for the region.
This will be Holbrooke’s first visit to Pakistan since US President Barack Obama unveiled a new strategy to commit thousands of additional troops and billions of dollars to the war in Afghanistan. Holbrooke had earlier visited the region shortly after his appointment as the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.