US will continue drone attacks in Pakistan

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By Yakesh Tyagi
Date  6 June 2012
Pentagon chief Leon Panetta says the US would continue its drone attacks in Pakistan despite complaints from Islamabad that the strikes violate its sovereignty.

"We have made it very clear that we are going to continue to defend ourselves," the US defense secretary said during a conference in India on Wednesday.

Panetta also dismissed suggestions that the strikes could violate Pakistan's sovereignty.

"This is about our sovereignty as well," he added.

On Tuesday, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry summoned the US Charge d'affaires Richard Hoagland over Washington’s continued assassination drone attacks in the country.

The move came following a recent hike in the number of the unauthorized air attacks, which Pakistan has repeatedly criticized as counter-productive.

Washington claims its drone strikes target militants, though casualty figures clearly indicate that Pakistani civilians are the main victims of the non-UN-sanctioned attacks.

More than 150 people have died in 20 drone attacks in Pakistan's northwest tribal region since the beginning of this year.

Pakistan-US relations experienced particularly serious strains in 2011 after a CIA contractor killed two Pakistanis and a US team infiltrated the Pakistani territory under the pretext of killing al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

This was topped by US air strikes in November which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at two army outposts on the Afghan border.

The last incident prompted Islamabad to shut down supply routes to US-led foreign military forces in Afghanistan.

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