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Pakistanis Rally against US Airstrikes

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TEHRAN, March 28 (ICANA) - Thousands of Pakistani demonstrators have taken to the streets in the capital Islamabad to condemn unauthorized US drone attacks on the country's tribal regions.
Monday, March 28, 2011 9:06:18 PM
Pakistanis Rally against US Airstrikes

Supporters of Pakistan's Jamaat-e-Islami religious party converged in front of the Parliament House on Sunday to demand that the government review its relations with Washington, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The protesters maintained that a simple apology or words of condemnation from Obama's administration do not go far enough, otherwise the US drone attacks would have stopped by now.

“There are demands that we should regain our sovereignty, the war has shifted in Pakistan and our soldiers are being killed. The government should step out of the war,” a demonstrator told Press TV on condition of anonymity.

Speaking at the rally, the chief of Jammat-e-Islami strongly criticized the Pakistani government for following what he called American policies.

“The government must avoid military operations in the North Waziristan. If they carry out any such operations at the American behest it will be disastrous for the country,” Syed Munawar Hassan said.

The US conducted a record 124 drone attacks in the tribal areas of Pakistan in 2010, more than double the number of predator strikes conducted in 2009. The assaults killed 1,184 people in 2010, compared to 2009's death toll of 760 in 53 attacks.

Most of the attacks took place in the North Waziristan tribal area -- a hotbed of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Though Washington at times has claimed it has an agreement with Islamabad about such attacks, Pakistani authorities insist there has never been such a deal and that they view the airstrikes as repeated violations of the country's sovereignty.

The missile strikes have proven “counterproductive” as large numbers of outraged residents of the border areas are beginning to support the militants, according to Pakistani officials.

"We believe that they are counter-productive and also a violation of our sovereignty," Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said in early October.

"We hope that the US will revisit its policy," the spokesperson added.

In late November, Islamabad rejected a request by Washington to expand its drone missile campaign outside the tribal belt along the Afghan border.

Basit said Pakistan would not allow the United States to carry out drone strikes in new areas.

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