Press Trust of India
Islamabad, 5 November
Amid continued tensions with the USA over drone strikes, Pakistan army has successfully shot down a “drone” during a military exercise that was watched by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
During the “Azm-e-Nau 4 Exercise” at Bahawalpur in Punjab province yesterday, the army air defence demonstrated its anti-drone technology by successfully bringing down a drone by targeting it with the 35mm Oerlikon guns, ‘The News’ daily said.
The event also marked the culmination of five-year series of exercises jointly conducted by the Pakistan army and Pakistan Air Force at firing range in Khairpur Tamewali, about 75 km from international borders.
The drones are an emotional issue in the country and the public opinion has been further divided with the latest strike by a CIA-operated spy plane on Friday that killed Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud.
Pakistani politicians, except a few handful, have criticised the strike saying it was deliberately done to scuttle the peace talks with the Taliban. However, security analysts and former military officers are happy that Pakistan’s number one enemy has been killed.
The drone strike had renewed calls from some sections of the political and religious class to shoot down the US-operated unmanned plane.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister, who arrived at a helipad near the firing range in Cholistan desert, was received by Gen. Kayani.
He himself drove an open army jeep to bring the prime minister to the observation post to witness the demonstration by armoured, artillery, air defence and civil aviation formations of the Pakistan army and firepower by F-16, JF-17 Thunder, F 7P and Mirage aircraft to repel an attack of enemy forces.
Mr Sharif said the government had made its position clear that drone strikes constituted a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, were violative of international humanitarian laws, besides being counter-productive to its efforts for bringing peace and stability in Pakistan and the region.
He also maintained that his government would not take any foreign dictation to determine its national security policies, saying, the days when the country’s policies were determined through telephone calls from abroad are gone.