ISLAMABAD - On the instructions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, US Charge d’Affaires Ambassador Richard Hoagland was summoned on Saturday afternoon to the Foreign Office by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi to lodge a strong protest on the US drone strike carried out in North Waziristan on Friday (June 7).

“It was conveyed to the US CdA (Charge d’Affaires) that the Government of Pakistan strongly condemns the drone strikes which are a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the foreign ministry statement said, calling for an immediate end to the attacks. The importance of bringing an immediate end to drone strikes was emphasised.

The US official was handed a demarche in this regard.  It was also pointed out that the Government of Pakistan had consistently maintained that drone strikes were counter-productive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives and had human rights and humanitarian implications.

It was also stressed that these drone strikes had a negative impact on the mutual desire of both countries to forge a cordial and cooperative relationship and to ensure peace and stability in the region.

The missile attack in North Waziristan Agency on Friday was the first since Nawaz Sharif was sworn in as prime minister this week calling for an end to such strikes.

Attacks by unmanned American aircraft are deeply unpopular in Pakistan, but Washington views them as a vital tool in the fight against Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants in the lawless tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

Sharif’s government had also publicly criticised the drone strike that killed Taliban deputy Waliur Rehman last week.

Rehman, the number two in the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) faction, died along with at least five others when a drone fired two missiles on a house in North Waziristan on May 29.

The senior leader, who had a $5 million US government bounty on his head, was killed after US President Barack Obama outlined new and more restrictive guidelines on drone use.

Ties with Washington will be a key part of Sharif’s tenure, particularly as NATO withdraws the bulk of its forces from Afghanistan by the end of next year after more than 12 years of war.