New Pakistani PM Sharif tells US to halt drone strikes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 June, 2013, 9:00am


Just days after taking power, Pakistan's new government has lodged a protest with the US and summoned a top American envoy to vent its frustration following a US drone strike that intelligence officials say killed seven militants.

Friday night's strike near the Afghan border came two days after Nawaz Sharif was sworn in as prime minister. Sharif has insisted the US stop such attacks, saying they violate Pakistan's sovereignty

The protest lodged yesterday indicates Sharif will - at least publicly - take a tougher line on the matter than the preceding government. That government routinely condemned such strikes but was believed to have secretly supported at least some of them.

A government statement said US chargé d'affaires Richard Hoagland was summoned to the Foreign Office on Sharif's instructions.

At least seven people were killed when a US drone fired three missiles at a house in northwestern Pakistan, hours after the country's new prime minister announced his cabinet.

During his campaign, Sharif often criticised the US for using drone aircraft to kill militants.

The drones targeted a house in Mangroti village in the Shawal area of North Waziristan, the tribal region straddling the border with Afghanistan. The identities of the victims were not immediately known, but an intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, described them as militants. Hours before the strike, Sharif announced his 25-member cabinet, a team of close aides who will work to solve Pakistan's entrenched economic, social and security problems.

Two women were among the new cabinet members: Anusha Rehman Khan, a lawmaker, will serve as a state minister for information technology and telecoms; Saira Afzal Tarar has been appointed a minister of state for health sciences regulation and co-ordination.

Sharif kept the crucial portfolios of defence and foreign affairs for himself, while Ishaq Dar, a certified accountant and a relative of Sharif's, was given the finance portfolio.