BEIJING, Jan. 16 (Xinhuanet by Qi Zijian ) -- A U.S. air strike intended to killal-Qaida's No. 2 man Ayman al-Zawahiri missed its target and killed at least 18 innocent people in a Pakistani village, in yet another clear manifestation of U.S. forces' sheer disregard for civilian lives in Washington's on-going anti-terror campaign.
The Pakistani government on Saturday lodged a protest with the United States over its "unprovoked" air attack on the country's northwestern tribal region, a move which resulted in a grave abuse of human rights of these innocent civilians.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry condemned the killing of civilians, saying it had delivered an official protest to the U.S.ambassador to Islamabad.
Pakistani Information Minister Sheik Rashid Ahmed said his government wanted "to assure the people we will not allow such incidents to recur."
On Friday, a U.S. pilotless aircraft fired missiles on the village of Damadola in the country's Bajaur tribal area, targeting Ayman al-Zawahiri, the second-highest-ranking leader of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network.
However, local officials in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region said at least 18 civilians, including five women and five children, had been killed in the attack.
Washington has said it is not sure about Zawahiri's fate after the air strike, while a senior Pakistani security official said hewas convinced the man had not been in the village at all when it was hit.
The incident stirred strong reactions in Pakistan on Saturday, with thousands of tribesmen taking part in a rally in the town of Khaar, the administrative center of Bajaur, to protest the killing.
It is not the first time for U.S. forces, in the name of anti-terrorism, to mount attacks which have resulted in the loss of innocent civilians in Pakistan and other countries.
The New York Times reported that eight people, also including women and children, were killed on Jan. 7 when U.S. forces fired missiles and destroyed the house of a local cleric in North Waziristan close to the Afghan border. Pakistan reacted with a strong protest with coalition forces on Monday.
There have been a number of incidents involving civilian deathsin failed or misdirected U.S. attacks in Afghanistan and along the border with Pakistan, said the newspaper.
In December 2003, nine children and a 25-year-old man were killed in a strike from another U.S. pilotless aircraft in Hutala,a village in a remote area of southern Ghazni Province.
The intended target, a Taliban supporter who was suspected of being behind several attacks on foreign aid and construction workers, was not among the dead and may have not been in the village at the time.
The bloody incidents reveal U.S. forces' grave disregard for other people's human rights and Washington's double standards are very much in evidence.
There may be justification for the United States to press ahead with its anti-terror policy, which is aimed at protecting the safety of American people, or their right of existence, from being harmed.
However, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the "anti-terror" operations launched by U.S. forces on other nations'soil have seriously violated the right of existence of the people there.
Judging by the incidents, it has become all the more obvious that Washington has all along adopted double standards when it comes to the human rights of its own people and those from other countries.
Human rights organizations in Pakistan also condemned Saturday's attack, which they said undermined the cause of democracy in the South Asian country, reported The Washington Post.
Afrasiab Khattak, director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, was quoted as describing the attack "a grass violation of human rights."
The United States, which considers itself as a "defender of human rights," always makes irresponsible comments on other nations' human rights records.
But what U.S. forces have done shows that their goal is not to protect human rights, but find an excuse for their other political moves.
The air strikes on Pakistani soil by U.S. forces have also affected its sovereignty.
According to The New York Times, the country has not granted U.S. forces in Afghanistan the right to cross the border, even in pursuit of militants.
Pakistani security forces have made great efforts in fighting terrorism and hunting down al-Qaida members believed to be taking shelter in the northwestern tribal region, President Pervez Musharraf was quoted as saying.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry also mentioned the security forces' mass operations against foreign militants, saying: "To protect our people and territory from incursion remains our responsibility."
Some U.S. officials assert human rights are more important than sovereignty. But once their country's interests are involved, neither of the two issues is no longer important.
The United States will continue to carry out its anti-terror operations in the future, and such air strikes on other nations' soil could take place again.
Nevertheless, no one would want to see the continued loss of innocent lives as a result of the anti-terror operations. Enditem