Pakistan to US: Stop Missile Strikes Near Border

October 29, 2008 - 7:03 AM
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Islamabad (AP) - Pakistan's government summoned the U.S. ambassador on Wednesday to urge an immediate halt to missile strikes on suspected militant hide-outs near the Afghan border.
 
Missile strikes have killed at least two senior al-Qaida commanders in Pakistan, putting some pressure on extremist groups accused of planning attacks in Afghanistan -- and perhaps terror strikes in the West.
 
However, a marked uptick in frequency of the missile attacks has badly strained America's seven-year alliance with Pakistan, where rising violence is exacerbating economic problems gnawing at the nuclear-armed Islamic republic's stability.
 
Having called in U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson on Wednesday, "a strong protest was lodged on the continued missile attacks by U.S. drones inside Pakistani territory," a Foreign Ministry statement said.
 
The attacks have led to the loss of "precious lives and property" and "undermine public support for the government's counterterrorism policies," the statement said.
 
"It was emphasized that such attacks were a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and should be stopped immediately," it said.
 
A U.S. embassy spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
 
American commanders complain that Pakistani forces have not put enough pressure on militants in its remote and impoverished border regions, an area considered a possible hiding place for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri.
 
Reflecting that frustration, U.S. military and CIA drones that patrol the frontier region are believed to have carried out at least 15 strikes since mid-August, including one that killed about 20 people at the home of a Taliban commander on Monday.
 
The United States rarely confirms or denies involvement.
 
Lawmakers on Monday pass a resolution condemning the attacks and calling on the government to take "more effective measures" to stop them.
 
The Foreign Ministry said it gave a copy of the resolution to Patterson on Wednesday.