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US drone strikes Pak again

MIRANSHAH/washington/lahore, May 23, 2012, AFP/PTI: 1:16 IST
US missiles killed four militants in a Taliban stronghold of Pakistan on Wednesday, officials said, amid increasing strains with the West over a six-month blockade on Nato supplies into Afghanistan.

A drone targeted a compound near Miranshah, the main town of the tribal district where Pakistan has resisted US pressure to launch a sweeping offensive against militants fighting US troops in neighbouring Afghanistan. “The drone fired two missiles on a house in the Tabai area near Miranshah,” one of the securitymen said on condition of anonymity, adding that four militants were killed.

“It is not immediately known if an important target is among those killed,” he said.
The area is a stronghold of the Haqqani network — Afghan insurgents blamed for a series of spectacular attacks on Western targets in Kabul -- and Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud.

Islamabad denies any support for Haqqani, but the former chief US military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, called them a “veritable arm” of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

US Senate slashes aid

Meanwhile, sounding a fresh warning to Pakistan, a key Senate panel has voted to slash American assistance to Islamabad by more than half, approving only $1 billion in aid for fiscal 2013 and warned of further cuts unless it reopens Nato supply routes to Afghanistan.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, which passes the budget for the State Department, on Tuesday approved only $1 billion in assistance to Pakistan, slashing nearly $900 million from the aid that the country had been due to receive this year and next.

The Senate action reflected growing American anger over a month-long standoff and comes just after a Nato Summit in Chicago where Washington had hoped to reach a deal with Islamabad on supply routes. “The panel voted to cut aid to Pakistan by 58 per cent in fiscal 2013 as lawmakers questioned Islamabad’s commitment to fight against terrorism,” said Republican Senator Patrick Leahy, the chairman of panel.

Pak humiliated: Qureshi

Reacting to the ongoing standoff with the US over Nato supply routes to Afghanistan, former Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Islamabad was humiliated at the Nato Summit in Chicago because of President Asif Ali Zardari’s “zero credibility”.

“Pakistan had not been taken seriously by the world owing to the zero credibility of the incompetent rulers. World leaders gave a cold shoulder to President Zardari. It is the humiliation of my country,” he said.

‘Zardari got message to reopen route’

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari was given a message at the Nato Summit to reopen supply lines to Afghanistan, a top US diplomat said. “He (Zardari) got the message that it was important that the ground lines of communication, which are the shortest way to get supplies in and out of Afghanistan, be opened and soon,” US Ambassador to Nato, Ivo Daalder, said.

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