Bajwa’s plain talk on drones

DURING his visit to Corps Headquarters in Peshawar on Wednesday, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa took stock of the security situation on western border, analysed threats and pondered over ways and means to respond effectively to the challenge. He sent positive signals across the Durand Line by reiterating oft-repeated position of Pakistan that it considers Afghanistan as a brotherly neighbour and calls terrorists as common enemy.
However, the most important observation that the Army Chief made on the occasion was regarding drone strikes, which have resumed after assumption of power by the new US administration. Gen Bajwa has timely warned that such strikes were counter-productive and against the spirit of ongoing cooperation and intelligence sharing being undertaken by Pakistan. His comments came as Washington has indicated it would unveil a new policy for Afghanistan sometime in July, which would obviously have repercussions for Pakistan especially when the United States has been talking about activities of Haqqani network from Pakistani soil. Surge in US troops in Afghanistan and continuation of drone strikes inside Pakistan would mean there is going to be no peace in the region for the foreseeable future and the region would remain destabilised. Given the fact that Pakistan has achieved remarkable successes in its operation against terrorists and extremists, the United States should share intelligence with Pakistan and leave the matter of dealing with any potentially harmful activity to Pakistan Armed Forces. As pointed out by the COAS, Pakistan is capable of taking effective measures if actionable intelligence is shared. We have been emphasising in these columns that elimination of the menace of terrorism requires cooperation among all stakeholders and it is beyond imagination to think that the threat can be overcome without cooperation of Pakistan. Islamabad has proven its sincerity and commitment to fight terror and therefore, there was no justification to trample the country’s sovereignty and thereby injuring feelings and self-respect of people of Pakistan. Continuation of drone strikes also creates problems for government and restricts its options in the face of hostile domestic environment.

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