The Pakistan government Friday repeated its view that US drone strikes in its territory were illegal, after President Barack Obama laid out new guidelines for their use.
The US president mounted a firm defence of his covert drone war as legal and just in a major speech on counterterrorism policy on Thursday but warned that undisciplined use of the tactic would invite abuses of power.
Islamabad said it welcomed some aspects of Obama’s address, particularly his acknowledgement that “force alone cannot make us safe”, but it remained firm on its long-held public stance on unmanned missile attacks in its tribal northwest.
“The Government of Pakistan has consistently maintained that the drone strikes are counter-productive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives, have human rights and humanitarian implications and violate the principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Obama said he had approved new guidelines stating that drone strikes can only be used to prevent imminent attacks and when the capture of a suspect is not feasible and if there is a “near certainty” that civilians will not be killed.
According to Britain’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism, CIA drone attacks in Pakistan have killed up to 3,587 people since 2004, up to 884 of them civilians.