Pakistan conveys strong message to US on drone attacks
Any future drone strike will be detrimental to ties: Sartaj
Rawalpindi—Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, in a meeting with senior US officials at GHQ on Friday, raised the demand of targeting Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants and their chief Mullah Fazlullah in their hideouts in Afghanistan.
Talking to Commander Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan General John Nicholson and US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson, Gen Raheel said “Pakistan will not allow Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies to foment terrorism in the country”.
According to an ISPR communique, the regional security situation with particular reference to border management and peace and stability in Afghanistan in the post-May 21 US drone strike environment came under discussion during the meeting.
The army chief reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment towards the war against terrorism and effective border management with Afghanistan in order to promote regional peace and stability.
Expressing his serious concern on the May 21 US drone strike in Balochistan – which had killed Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Mansour – and terming it a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, Gen Raheel highlighted how the drone strike negatively affected the mutual trust and respect between the two countries and the gains made during Pakistan’s own war on terror.
He told the visiting dignitaries that it is unfortunate that Pakistan is blamed for instability in Afghanistan, adding that Pakistan has always expressed its readiness to work for a long term peace process for Afghanistan under the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) framework.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has conveyed to the United States that any drone strikes conducted by the latter in Pakistani territory in the future would be detrimental to the relationship between the two countries.
The message was conveyed to the US delegation comprising Richard Olson, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and Dr. Peter Lavoy, Senior Adviser and Director for South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council who called on Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry here on Friday.
The two sides held candid discussions on bilateral relations, regional security situation and the Afghan peace process in the wake of 21 May drone strike in Balochistan.
The Adviser told the United States that the 21 May drone strike was not only a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and breach of the principles of the United Nation’s Charter, but also vitiated bilateral ties.
He expressed his concern that the drone strike had seriously undermined the ongoing efforts for Afghan peace and reconciliation process at a time when Pakistan, along with other Quadrilateral Coordination Group countries, was engaged in serious efforts to revive peace talks between Afghan Government and the Taliban.
The Foreign Secretary recalled that QCG in its last meeting decided that peace negotiations would remain the only option for a political settlement. He emphasised that this will require collective efforts on the part of all QCG members to promote lasting peace in Afghanistan.
In response to US queries on safe havens for Taliban, it was emphasised that Pakistan is already pursuing its objective of eliminating all militants and terrorists from its soil in accordance with the National Action Plan.
At the same time, Pakistan would have to safeguard its own security through better border management and early repatriation of Afghan refugees.
Pakistan also expects action by Afghan forces against TTP operatives in Afghanistan. These steps would also help to promote better relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan and reduce mistrust.