Callous US kills 41 at NWA jirga

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PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD – In less than 24 hours after the release of CIA contractor Raymond Davis, US drones on Thursday targeted a tribal jirga in North Waziristan Agency’s Datta Khel tehsil, killing 41 and injuring 15.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Syed Masood Kausar accused the US of targeting the tribal jirga and killing several delegates and personnel of the tribal militia, the Khasadar Force. “I strongly condemn this drone attack. A tribal jirga was targeted in which several tribal elders and tribal policemen were martyred,” Kausar said in a statement.
“We want to make it clear that the Government of Pakistan and its people will not tolerate such attacks. These attacks are against the sovereignty of Pakistan,” the statement added. According to tribesmen, the jirga, attended by a number of tribal elders and convened to resolve a dispute over the ownership of chromites mine in the area, was the target of the attack.
The tribesmen said the first US drone fired two missiles on a vehicle but missed the target, adding that the drone then fired four more missiles killing over 40 people. It was the most lethal drone strike to hit the tribal Areas since August 2008 when the covert campaign escalated in the areas bordering Afghanistan.
Kayani furious: Meanwhile, in his first ever but strong reaction to the US drone strikes, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani said, “It is highly regrettable that a jirga of peaceful citizens including elders of the area was carelessly and callously targeted with complete disregard to human life.”
“In complete violation of human rights, such acts of violence take us away from our objective of elimination of terrorism. It is imperative to understand that this critical objective cannot be sacrificed for temporary tactical gains. Security of the people of Pakistan, in any case, stands above all,” a statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations quoted Gen Kayani as saying.
“Pakistan’s military leadership is visibly angry at the Americans and General Kayani’s statement clearly tells that. The military establishment was first perturbed over criticism at its alleged role in Davis’ release by some politicians and media and now they are extremely angry that the Americans didn’t even wait for a single day after Davis’ release before raining down missiles in North Waziristan,” a senior official requesting anonymity said.
He said those who were thinking that Washington and Islamabad and especially the CIA and the ISI had been able to overcome their differences were giving it a second thought, adding that the army chief’s statement would set alarm bells ringing in the US capital. General Kayani said, “The Pakistan Army condoles with the families whose dear and near ones have been martyred in this senseless attack. The Pakistan Army shares the grief of the people of Waziristan. Troops on ground have been ordered to render all possible assistance to bereaved families.”
“The Pakistan Army wishes to assure the brave people of Waziristan that we shall do our best and utmost to protect their life, honour and dignity at all costs. The Pakistan Army is fighting the terrorists and not its brethren in the Tribal Areas,” the COAS said, adding, “The Pakistan Army has already launched a protest in the strongest possible terms. It has been highlighted clearly that such aggression against people of Pakistan is unjustified and intolerable under any circumstances.”
Condemning the deadly attack, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said such attacks will only strengthen extremists. Gilani termed the attack as irrational behaviour which would negatively impact the efforts to separate the militants from the peaceful and patriotic tribesmen of the areas.
The PM said such attacks would bode very negatively on joint efforts to eliminate the menace of terrorism in this region, adding that all possible security measures would be taken to protect the people of the region. Meanwhile, the Foreign Office issued a demarche to the US ambassador in Pakistan seeking an apology and explanation of the incident.
A FO statement condemned the attack, saying it was uncalled for and and violated basic human rights.