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U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan may complicate vital negotiations

Islamabad, Mon, 30 Apr 2012 ANI

Islamabad, Apr 30 (ANI): A fresh drone strike by the Central Investigation Agency in Pakistan's North Waziristan Agency have drawn speculations of a set back in vital negotiations between the already strenuous U.S.-Pak relationship.

The drone missiles hit militant targets in Pakistan on Sunday, as the U.S. ignored the Pakistani government's insistence that such attacks end as a condition for normalised relations between the two perpetually uneasy allies.

The drone strikes killed four Al-Qaeda-linked militants in a girls' school they had taken over in the North Waziristan tribal area, security officials said.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry condemned the attacks and some politicians said the drone strikes might set back already difficult negotiations over the reopening of vital NATO supply routes to Afghanistan that Pakistan blocked five months ago.

"When a duly elected democratic Parliament says three times not to do this, and the U.S. keeps doing it, it undermines democracy," said a Pakistani government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "These drone strikes may kill terrorists, but the net loser is freedom and democracy," he added.

"There will be repercussions whether in the government or in the public or in the Parliament," The Washington Post quoted Aftab Khan Sherpao, a National Assembly member, as saying. "In no case would we allow the NATO supplies now," he added.

Others saw the drone attacks as a provocation that undermined any notion that the United States had engaged in sincere, meaningful talks last week.

"The CIA could have opted not to go for a drone strike at such a crucial time, when senior U.S. officials are trying hard to iron out differences with Pakistan," said Sheik Waqas Akram, a member of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's cabinet. "It shows that it has no regard for the Pakistani Parliament's resolution," he added.

Last week, after two days of high-level talks in Islamabad, Pakistan told U.S. negotiators that it would not allow NATO convoys to cross its territory unless the United States unconditionally apologized for November airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border. Although the Obama administration has expressed regret for the killings, which it said were accidental, the Pentagon says both sides share blame. (ANI)

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