Pakistani Military Unveils Its Own Drones

By:  Jack Kenny
Pakistani Military Unveils Its Own Drones

Following a weekend of protests in Pakistan over U.S. drone strikes, the Kabul government revealed that its military has developed new drones of its own, the Washington Post reported Monday.

The drones are unarmed and will be used for surveillance, according to the nation's military officials, who nonetheless issued a statement describing the Strategically Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as "a landmark and a historic event, wherein a very effective force multiplier has been added to the inventory of the armed forces."

According to Muhammad Saad, a former senior officer in the Pakistani military, the country already has more limited drones for reconnaissance, with a range of about six miles. The newer models, called Burraq and Shapar, are said to have a range of 75 miles and will be more useful in "collecting of more operational intelligence" that could help guide helicopter gunships and fighter jets to specific targets, Saad said. The Post cited Saad and other sources as saying that Pakistan is still years away from being able to develop armed drones. "Still, Monday's announcement is likely to unnerve Pakistan's neighbors, including India and Afghanistan," the Post reported.

Demonstrators on Sunday attempted to stop trucks carrying NATO troop supplies through northwest Pakistan into Afghanistan, where U.S. and other NATO forces have been at war with the Taliban and other insurgents for the past 12 years. About 100 protestors on the outskirts of Peshawar, capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, approached trucks stopped at a toll booth, checked documents, and "roughed up drivers," the Associated Press reported. One driver, Gul Zaman, said he told the crowd he was carrying commercial goods, not NATO supplies, but was dragged out of the truck by some of the demonstrators.

"Without waiting for me to take my documents out of the glove compartment, they dragged me out," he told the AP. "We are also concerned about drone attacks, but they shouldn't come down heavy on us like this."

According to the New York Times, NATO trucks do not operate on weekends. A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban praised the protest, the Times reported, while Pervaiz Rashid, the Pakistani information minister, called it a farce.

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