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Pakistan: US drone attacks must stop!

Published time: March 20, 2012 08:20
Edited time: March 20, 2012 15:19
In this image obatined from the US Air Force (USAF), an Air Force MQ-9 Reaper from the 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron takes off March 13, 2009, from Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan, for a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (AFP Photo / USAF / Staff Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.)

In this image obatined from the US Air Force (USAF), an Air Force MQ-9 Reaper from the 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron takes off March 13, 2009, from Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan, for a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (AFP Photo / USAF / Staff Sgt. James L. Harper Jr.)

A Pakistani parliamentary commission has demanded an end to American drone strikes on the country’s territory as a condition for renewing Pakistani relations with the US.

The demand was announced on Tuesday, as Pakistan’s lawmakers discussed how Islamabad should proceed in mending its relations with Washington.

Ties between the long-time partners soured in 2011 over a series of scandals, which culminated in a US cross-border attack that mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.

The committee's chairman Raza Rabbani, outlining recommendations in parliament, said it should demand an unconditional apology for the killings.

The disarray between the two countries resulted in Pakistan’s cutting off land supply of American troops deployed in Afghanistan through its territory. The move bumped up the cost of maintaining the coalition, forcing the Pentagon’s logistics officers to search for alternative, more expensive routes. Pakistan also denied the US the use of its Shamsi Air base in south of the country.

Pakistan indicated last week that the conflict may soon be resolved, but this would include concessions on America’s part. Those may include higher transit fees for US cargo moving through Pakistan.

The US military have been using unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver strikes on suspected Taliban insurgents in Pakistan’s little-controlled tribal areas since 2004. Over the years, the program was criticized for indiscriminate killing of civilians along with militants.

A February 2012 report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism said that between 282 and 535 civilians, including 60 children, have been killed by American drones in Pakistan under the Obama administration alone.

The US government puts the number of civilian casualties from drone strikes much lower, saying dozens among the thousands killed were not Taliban fighters. The public opinion in Pakistan is that the majority of the drone air strike victims were civilians.