Friday, 12 April 2013
Musharraf comes clean on drone strikes
Ex-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf acknowledged his government secretly signed off on U.S. drone strikes, the first time a top past or present Pakistani official has admitted publicly to such a deal. Pakistani leaders long have openly challenged the drone program and insisted they had no part in it. Musharraf's admission, though, suggests he and others did play some role, even if they didn't oversee the program or approve every attack. In an interview this week in Islamabad, Musharraf insisted Pakistan's government signed off on strikes "only on a few occasions, when a target was absolutely isolated and no chance of collateral damage." Still, his admission that Pakistani leaders agreed to even a limited number of strikes runs counter to their repeated denunciations of a program they long claimed the United States was operating without their approval. The drone strikes -- which the nonpartisan public policy group New American Foundation estimates have killed at least 1,990 people in Pakistan, including hundreds of civilians -- are unpopular in Pakistan.