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US drone attack kills 18 in restive North Waziristan, despite Pakistan protests

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Pakistan’s foreign ministry said yesterday that an unnamed American diplomat was told that drone strikes are “unlawful, against international law, and a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty,” adding that the attacks are “unacceptable.” Pakistan has long been a vocal opponent of the drone strikes.

In 2010 the US conducted 117 drone strikes in Pakistan's border region, according to the Long War Journal. In 2011, that number dropped to 64, and there have been an estimated 33 so far this year, including today’s.

According to AP, despite the Pakistani government's public opposition to the drones, it has surreptitiously backed their use.

The [Pakistani] government is widely believed to have supported the attacks quietly in the past. That cooperation has come under pressure as the relationship between the two countries has deteriorated.

“This is a product of sleeping with the enemy,” wrote a reader in a comment on a story in the Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune on a drone strike earlier this week.

The debate over the use of drones is heated in the US as well. In an International Herald Tribune blog post this week, Mark McDonald explores whether drones are worth their cost – not just militarily, but socially and politically as well.

Drones are seen as more efficient than sending in US troops, Mr. McDonald notes:

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