Islamabad, January 29: Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has once again condemned US drone attacks carried out against his country, calling them illegal and counterproductive.
During a speech in Davos, Switzerland, Gilani announced that the US drone attacks resulted in a “trust deficit” between Islamabad and Washington.
“Drones are counterproductive. We have very ably isolated militants from the local tribes. When there are drone attacks, that creates sympathy for them [militants] again,” said Gilani, adding that such attacks created further complications for the country's military and political leadership.
The statement comes one day after tens of thousands of people gathered in Karachi to protest against Washington's policies and the assassination drones being used against Pakistan's tribal belt.
The US regularly carries out attacks by unmanned aircraft on Pakistan's tribal regions, claiming the airstrikes target pro-Taliban militants. But locals say civilians are the main victims of the non-UN-sanctioned US strikes.
The aerial attacks, initiated by former US President George W. Bush, have escalated under President Barack Obama.
Tensions between Washington and Islamabad have been on the rise since a US attack on Pakistani soil that left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead back in November.
In response, Pakistan closed the border crossings that were used to transport supplies to US-led forces in Afghanistan and ordered all American personnel to vacate a remote airfield in Balochistan Province that was used to launch drone attacks.
The US has been left with no choice but to send supplies through costly alternate routes, such as Russia and the Central Asian states.
Pentagon figures, provided to the Associated Press on January 19, showed it was now costing about USD 104 million per month to send the supplies through a longer route. That is USD 87 million more per month than when the cargoes moved through Pakistan.
American officials say the US will have to keep paying the elevated costs for some time amid no sign of improvement in Washington-Islamabad ties.