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US missile strikes 'counter-productive': Pakistan

world Updated: Jan 28, 2009 11:53 IST

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Pakistan on Wednesday hit back against US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, saying US missile strikes inside its borders were "counter-productive" to anti-terrorism efforts.

"Our policy remains unchanged and we believe drone strikes are counter-productive," foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Sadiq told AFP.

Pakistan on Wednesday hit back against US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, saying US missile strikes inside its borders were "counter-productive" to anti-terrorism efforts."Both President (George W) Bush and President (Barack) Obama have made clear we will go after al-Qaeda wherever al-Qaeda is, and we will continue to pursue that," Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

But the Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman branded the strikes by drones "counterproductive to our efforts to counter terrorism."

He declined to make any further comment.

Two missile strikes in South and North Waziristan, on Pakistan's side of the border with Afghanistan, where US and NATO-led forces are battling Taliban insurgents, on Friday last week were the first such attacks since Obama took office.

Pakistani security officials said at least 21 people were killed, including three children.

The strikes effectively dashed any hopes Pakistani officials were nurturing that the new Obama administration would halt such actions.

Dozens of similar strikes since August have sparked sustained and angry government criticism of the United States, a close ally believed to be firing the missiles from unmanned CIA aircraft.

Pakistan has repeatedly protested to Washington that drone strikes violate its territorial sovereignty and deepen resentment among the 160 million people of the nuclear-armed Islamic nation.

President Asif Ali Zardari and army chief General Ashfaq Kayani were quoted as telling top US General David Petraeus in Islamabad last week that they hoped the Obama administration would take their concerns into consideration.