Sunday, May 19, 2013

UK govt funds poll in Pakistan on US drone attacks

Business Standard, May 20, 2013

For the first time, Britain has admitted that it has been funding surveys in Pakistan’s restive tribal areas that reveal US drone strikes against al- Qaeda and Taliban militants are causing deep resentment among local people.

In an answer to a parliamentary question, the foreign minister, Alistair Burt, confirmed that the Foreign Office had “supported” surveys which showed the proportion of respondents in the tribal areas who believed the CIA-operated drone strikes were “never justified” had risen from 59 per cent in 2010 to 63 per cent in 2011.

It appears to be the first time that the government has revealed it has carried out opinion polls on the CIA drone campaign in Pakistan – a programme on which it has refused to comment publicly, The Guardian reported.

Previously British ministers have said: “Drone strikes are a matter for the United States and Pakistan.”

However, there have been claims that the British government has been complicit in the programme, sharing locational intelligence with US agencies to help them target the strikes, the report said.

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