ISLAMABAD - The Foreign Office on Thursday summoned a senior American diplomat to protest against US drone strikes in the tribal areas.

According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office spokesperson, the US Embassy in Pakistan was “demarched over recent drone strikes in North Waziristan.” “A senior US diplomat was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and informed that the drone strikes were unlawful, against international law and a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty,” said the statement. “It was emphatically stated that such attacks were unacceptable.”

The protest came up after the stepped up drone attacks during the last one week. Many people were killed in these attacks in North Waziristan on Eid days. There were 24 such attacks in 2012. Since this year, more than 175 people have reportedly been killed in such strikes.

The al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network in North Waziristan, blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan, is one of the thorniest issues between Islamabad and Washington.

Washington has long demanded that Pakistan take action against the Haqqanis, whom the United States accused of attacking the US embassy in Kabul last September.

Pakistan has in turn demanded that Afghan and US forces do more to stop Pakistani Taliban crossing the Afghan border to re-launch attacks on its forces. There has been a dramatic increase in US drone strikes in Pakistan since May, when a Nato summit in Chicago could not strike a deal to end a six-month blockade on convoys transporting supplies to coalition forces in Afghanistan.

On July 3 however, Islamabad agreed to end the blockade after the United States apologised for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers in botched air strikes last November.  The latest attack, which came after a lull of about three weeks, was in the same region where a drone strike on June 4 killed 15 militants, including senior al Qaeda figure Abu Yahya al-Libi.

Pakistan had earlier given a drones demarche when both countries’ bilateral relations sank to all-time low in the backdrop of Nato supplies cut.