March 26, 2010 5:43:42 pm
As Washington warms up to Islamabad,Pakistan has renewed its pitch to acquire killer drones from the US,a frontline weapons technology which America has not even shared with its closest allies.
A fresh pitch for the hellfire missile-armed predator drones and their upgraded Reaper version was made by the Pakistani delegation at the just concluded first ever US-Pak Strategic Dialogue.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told CNN that the killer drones were high up in his country’s weapons wish list submitted to the US.
“Such weapons will allow Pakistan to spearhead the drone attacks which will improve US’s public standing in his country,” he said.
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Acknowledging that the drones had “taken out some valuable targets” in the key Pak-Afghan tribal belt,Qureshi said: “We want the ownership. We make the decision when to operate it and this will help assuage the feeling in Pakistan”.
Using predators and Reapers,US agencies have carried out more than 100 attacks in Pakistan since August 2008,killing more than 830 militants,among them chiefs of Tehreek- e-Taliban,top operatives of the al-Qaeda and many other Central Asians and Chinese Islamic group commanders.
The US recently agreed to give Pakistan the unarmed version of the UAVs,but are hesitant to give them the killer drones which are operated remotely from far distance.
No other country in the region,including China and India,posses killer drones which are considered a hi-tech weapons platform system. The US has developed the missiles firing predators and Reapers with the help of Isreali technology.
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