The United States has no plans to curtail drone attacks on Pakistani soil, saying its right to target terrorist leaders “is about our sovereignty.”
U.S. Defense secretary Leon Panetta issued the defense of the strikes Wednesday, during a visit to New Delhi. He said Washington has always made it very clear that it will defend itself, and that the strikes also benefit the Pakistani people who are often the targets of insurgents.
Panetta spoke one day after the White House confirmed the killing of al-Qaida’s second-in-command, Abu Yahya al-Libi, apparently in drone strike in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region. The White House said U.S. intelligence had confirmed al-Libi’s death.
The U.S. characterized the strike as a major blow against al-Qaida.
Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney refused to comment directly on the impact the drone strike would have on U.S.-Pakistan relations, saying only the United States has “an important relationship with Pakistan that we endeavor to work on every day because it is in our national security interests to do so.”
Pakistan’s foreign ministry has said “the strategic disadvantages of such attacks far outweigh their tactical advantages, and are therefore, totally counterproductive.”