The Interior Ministers recent public statement that Pakistan is helpless to stop drone attacks, since it has no technology to counter them, only served to mislead the nation. His remark that PAF F-16s could attack only targets upto 33,000ft, while drones fire missiles from 66,000ft, is far from reality. Had the Minister done his homework, he would have known that the F-16s have a service ceiling of 60,000ft, whereas the CIA Predator drones are designed to fly at a maximum altitude of 25,000ft and generally unleash their Hellfire missiles from around 15,000ft or even lower. The drones are regularly sighted by the local tribals while flying overhead and their typical whizzing noise raises terror into their potential victims before the strike. The PAF has the capability to shoot down a drone was evident from the famous incident on the night of June 7, 2002, when an F-16 shot down an intruding Indian Air Force Searcher-II unmanned reconnaissance aircraft of Israeli origin while flying around 10,000ft over the south of Lahore, at the peak of the military escalation between the two countries. So if the PAF could shoot down an Indian drone, it must rise to occasion and defend its countrymen against the drones in line with its glorious past of defending the countrys airspace and the trust that the nation reposes in its warriors. Reportedly the PAF was placed on high alert after the March 17 Datta Khel drone strike, in North Waziristan. So this sends a warning to the US/CIA that the nations patience is fast running out and that a drone could be shot down in the near future. Moreover, this was followed by General Ashfaq Pervez Kayanis unprecedented condemnation of the attack on the peace jirga, which conveyed unambiguously the anger and sentiments of the armed forces and the nation. His statement that such an aggression against people of Pakistan was unjustified and intolerable under any circumstances send a loud and clear message about the resolve of the armed forces - that the security of people of Pakistan stands above all. To what extent, our political leadership, which remains dependent on US and IMF support to stay in power, would challenge US drones remains to be seen. According to the 2010 annual report on CIAs target killing campaign in Pakistan, released by the Conflict Monitoring Centre, Islamabad, the agency carried out 132 drone attacks in 2010 killing 938 persons, as compared to 53 strikes in 2009, 34 in 2008 and only nine attacks from 2004 to 2007 that resulted in 1,114 deaths from 2004 to 2009. Given that the intensity of drone attacks rose sharply after the PPP government came into power in 2008, does indicate a tacit understanding or a PPP-US deal to allow expansion in the drone attacks in return for 'special favours. With so much of Pakistani blood spilt over in FATA, as a consequence to the attacks, the Pakistani government should reveal the truth to the nation about its (if any) secret agreement or understanding with the US/CIA on allowing such attacks and the compulsions that prevents it from stopping the killing of its citizens. If no such agreement exists, then the government has a moral and legal responsibility to take the matter to international forums like the UNSC, the International Court of Justice and the OIC. While the governments decision to compensate the victims of the Datta Khel tragedy is welcomed, the families of all Pakistani tribesmen killed and those wounded in the drone attacks since 2004 must be adequately taken care of. For this, a Judicial Commission should be established to verify and compile the details of those who were either killed in the attacks or suffered material losses so that compensation or rehabilitation is undertaken in an institutionalised manner. Public pressure against the drone attacks need to be galvanised further. The nation needs to observe the Anti-Drone Day every month with countrywide protests and to show solidarity with our brethren. All political parties need to unite and support PTI Chief Imran Khan for his initiative to block the NATO supply routes near Peshawar, if the government fails to stop the attacks within one month. The Senate, National and Provincial Assemblies should pass resolutions calling for a halt in the attacks. Pakistanis residing in major world capitals must protest to stop this American barbarism that is targeting innocent people. The time has come to redefine and carry out a full review of the fundamentals of the Pak-US relationship, since we are not prepared to be treated as a client state. If the US cannot respect Pakistans sovereignty and stop the attacks, then the latter should seriously consider the application of strategic leverages that it holds, including renouncing its cooperation in the war on terror; the closure of logistic supply routes through Chaman and Torkham; and the denial of its airspace to the US and NATO aircrafts that would have disastrous ramifications for their operations in Afghanistan. The writer is a retired brigadier Email: