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Pakistan Denies US Missile Agreement

  • Barry Newhouse


Pakistan's Foreign Ministry is denying that it has an understanding with the United States for covert missile strikes against suspected terrorists in the country's lawless tribal regions.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry says "there is no understanding" between Pakistan and the United States on missile strikes by unmanned aircraft known as Predators.

Gates: US will continue pursuing al-Qaida terrorists

Officials in both countries rarely comment on the airstrikes against targets in Pakistan. On Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told lawmakers that President Obama will continue to pursue al-Qaida terrorists and that decision has been communicated to Pakistani leaders.

Secretary Gates did not mention predator strikes specifically - but the unmanned drone attacks are considered a key tactic against al Qaida militants in Pakistan.

First suspected missile strike under Obama administration was last week

The first suspected missile strike under the Obama administration took place last week. The Bush administration is believed to have conducted about 30 such strikes in 2008.

While Pakistan's Foreign Ministry denied there is any agreement about the strikes, officials said they are seeking closer cooperation to deal with the country's militancy.

Last year was one of the most violent on record in Pakistan, with local estimates of nearly 8,000 people killed in more than 2,500 attacks.

Pakistan hopeful about working with Obama government

Political analyst Ishtiaq Ahmed says Pakistani leaders are hopeful about working with the Obama administration to counter the growing threat from militants.

But those leaders and the military still routinely denounce covert U.S. airstrikes against suspected al-Qaida and Taliban militants, saying they undermine the credibility of the Pakistani government.

Ishtiaq Ahmed says the public resentment against the airstrikes is real, but so is the growing anger over the actions of the Pakistani Taliban.

"The Taliban burning schools, slaughtering people, kidnapping for ransom - they are also equally creating a concern in the wider society in Pakistan and the region. And that concern also should not be ignored," said Ahmed.

In a letter published in The Washington Post newspaper Wednesday, Pakistan's President Asif Zardari called for more U.S. aid to boost Pakistan's economy, infrastructure and housing, saying stabilizing the country begins with it becoming economically viable. He specifically called for investment in the economy in Northwest Pakistan - the area of the country most affected by this year's surge in militant violence.

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