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Protest against missile attack on Damadola By Baqir Sajjad Syed

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Protest against missile attack on Damadola By Baqir Sajjad Syed

ISLAMABAD, May 16: Pakistan on Friday lodged a protest with coalition forces in Afghanistan against the recent missile attack on Damadola in Bajaur Agency in which at least 10 people were killed.

“Pakistan has activated the tripartite commission comprising senior military officers and diplomatic representatives from Isaf, Afghanistan and Pakistan on the attack,” a diplomatic source told Dawn.

The tripartite commission is the agreed mechanism for addressing such complaints and it meets whenever required.

Diplomatic sources said that Pakistan would also be taking up the issue bilaterally with the United States.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would speak to President Bush on the attack when he meets him on Sunday in Sharm El-Sheikh on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Middle East.

Pakistan has time and again emphasised that military action on its side of the border with Afghanistan is the exclusive responsibility of its forces.

Inter-Services Public Relations director-general Maj-Gen Ather Abbas confirmed that the protest was lodged after it was established that the Wednesday missile attack had been carried out by a US drone.

The drone attack was the first by the US since the new government took office six weeks ago.

It comes at a time when the government is trying to negotiate a truce with militants in the restive tribal areas.

The PPP government has been trying to convince the US that strikes on its territory could be counter-productive and there were indications that the Americans had accepted the Pakistani viewpoint and agreed to stop drone attacks.

Under the previous government such strikes by predator drones armed with Hellfire missiles were never openly acknowledged and no protests were lodged.

There were at least three strikes carried out by US drones in the tribal areas before the PPP-led government took office and announced the new counter-terrorism policy that laid greater emphasis on dialogue.