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Zardari asks US to give Pak drone technology

world Updated: Jun 26, 2009 02:00 IST
Zardari asks US to give Pakistan drone technology

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday asked the US to give his country the drone technology to boost its capability to take on the Taliban as he expressed concern about missile strikes on its soil, two days after attacks killed over 80 people in South Waziristan.

Zardari told visiting US National Security Advisor James Jones that the Americans should give Pakistan the drone technology "for boosting its indigenous capacity to eliminate militants from its soil".

Two drone attacks on Tuesday in South Waziristan, the stronghold of local Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, killed over 80 people, including several civilians.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told a weekly news briefing that such strikes are not acceptable and must be stopped as these are counterproductive for the war on terror.

"Pakistan's position on this issue is very clear – these drone attacks are counterproductive and have more disadvantages than advantages," he said. Basit stressed the need for the US to review its policy of drone attacks.

During his meeting with Jones, Zardari said Pakistan "needed much more assistance" to rehabilitate people displaced by the operations against militants in the country's northwest and to embark on a massive socio-economic development programme of the area.

The socio-economic development would "banish poverty and thereby the forces of militancy" he said.

Zardari also said he was looking forward to the "materialisation soon of the building of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs)" with US assistance to help build the underdeveloped areas and to provide jobs to the people. He also sought international aid for Pakistan to meet its energy challenges.

The President thanked the US administration for its efforts in the adoption of the Kerry-Lugar Bill to provide USD 1.5 billion of annual aid to Pakistan over a period of five years.

Jones complimented Zardari for launching an "effective operation" against militants. He said it was helpful that the war against militancy had "broad-based public and political support".

The meeting between Zardari and Jones was also attended by senior officers of the US National Security Agency, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.