Islamabad, Mar 19 (ANI): Pakistan has pledged to rebuild its strained relationship with the United States after a stressful year, but maintained that the issue of unmanned drone attacks on its soil remains a major impasse.
A specially convened parliamentary session will begin in Islamabad today to decide on new parameters for the Pakistan-US relationship. The issue of drone attacks will be paramount on the agenda.
"These attacks are illegal. They amount to the violation of Pakistan's sovereignty. Therefore, it is high time US stops the illegal use of drone attacks," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit, as saying.
But while Pakistan claims civilians have been killed by the unmanned Predator aircraft, US President Barack Obama has defended their use, saying drone attacks are "very precise, precision strikes against al-Qaeda and their affiliates" with few civilian casualties. Eight drone strikes have been launched this year.
Before today's deliberations, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari had addressed both houses over the weekend.
"We seek to engage meaningfully with the US on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect," he had said in his record fifth joint-sitting address.
2010 had been a "challenging year" for both US and Pakistan, In January last year, an undeclared CIA officer shot and killed two men in a Lahore street after they had tried to rob him, and in May, US troops killed former al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, launching a dawn helicopter raid on his compound in Abbottabad, without informing Pakistan.
In November, near its border with Afghanistan, NATO helicopters opened fire on a Pakistani checkpoint, killing 24 troops. This finally led Pakistan to close its NATO supply routes into Afghanistan in protest, but new reports have suggested that there is now a broad agreement that the routes will be re-opened to "reset" the relationship between both countries. (ANI)
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