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DRONING ON

The new U.S. ambassador to Pakistan is strongly defending American drone attacks on terrorist targets inside the South Asian nation, despite public discontent over the unmanned aerial attacks.

“Drone strikes are part of the war on terror, and these are aimed at targeting common enemies,” Ambassador Cameron Munter told reporters, after arriving in Islamabad last week.

“These [attacks] are against terrorists,” he added.

One news story from the Pakistani capital noted that Mr. Munter’s remarks were “rare” because U.S. officials usually avoid commenting on the attacks on Pakistani territory from U.S. bases in neighboring Afghanistan.

Drone attacks target al Qaeda and Taliban hide-outs in the generally lawless region of Waziristan in northwest Pakistan. The attacks have killed several high-ranking terrorist leaders, including Baitullah Mehsud, the Taliban chief in Pakistan.

Critics questioned Mr. Munter’s “false start” in defending the airstrikes.

“The first words out of Ambassador Cameron Munter’s mouth defended the massively unpopular drone bombings,” said the Pakistan Patriot. “His unabated defense of the violation of the sovereignty of Pakistani territories will not go well with the Pakistani people.”

Mr. Munter last week also set out to spread U.S. aid to victims of massive flooding, flying on a military cargo plane to deliver food.

He told one reporter that his goal is to “build trust, not only with the [government] leadership and the military but with the people.”

WATCHING JORDAN

The International Republican Institute is sending observers to monitor Jordan’s parliamentary elections next month, as the Hashemite kingdom is opening its elections for the first time to foreign poll watchers.

The delegation will be led by Peter Madigan, vice chairman of the IRI board of directors and a former top aide to former Secretary of State James A. Baker III.

Jordan’s King Abdullah dismissed parliament last year, when most Jordanians criticized the legislature for corruption. The king called for new elections by the end of 2010. Voters will elect a lower house that has expanded to 120 from 110 members. The new parliament will include 12 seats reserved for women.

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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