The Pakistani government on Monday summoned an American diplomat to protest a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan during the weekend, further deteriorating an already fragile relationship between the two countries.
A statement issued by Pakistan's foreign ministry said Director General America, Suhail Khan, summoned U.S. Political Councilor Jonathan Pratt to protest the unilateral strikes. "Such attacks are in total contravention of international law and established norms of interstate relations," the ministry said, adding that the strikes are a violation of Pakistan's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
On Sunday, an unmanned U.S. aircraft targeted an abandoned high school for girls in Miranshah, the main town in Pakistan's North Waziristan near the border with Afghanistan. Intelligence officials said the strike killed four suspected militants and injured three others, although it was not possible to independently verify the figures.
Pakistan officials have repeatedly described the U.S. drone attacks as illegal. Last week, during a joint news conference with U.S. Special Envoy Marc Grossman, Pakistani Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani underlined the country's strong opposition to the CIA-led drone campaign in Pakistan's tribal areas.
Pakistani President Asif Zardari has also stated the need to establish alternative security operations to the drone strikes, but U.S. officials have indicated that they will continue to carry out U.S. drone strikes to take out militants.
In January, U.S. President Barack Obama, for the first time during his presidency, publicly acknowledged that U.S. drones regularly strike suspected militants along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. He confirmed that many of these strikes are carried out in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, targeting al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects in tough terrain.
The U.S. considers the Pakistan-Afghan border to be the most dangerous place on Earth. The area is known to be a stronghold of the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network, which is one of the top terrorist organizations and threats to U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.
But controversy has surrounded the drone strikes as local residents and officials have blamed them for killing innocent civilians and motivating young men to join the Taliban. Details about the alleged militants are usually not provided, and the U.S. government does not comment on the strikes.