Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Drone Strikes: There's 'No Wink and Nod' from Pakistan, Ambassador Says

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Drone Strikes: There's 'No Wink and Nod' from Pakistan, Ambassador Says

Article excerpt

Pakistan views the campaign of drone strikes that the United States continues to carry out against terrorist targets inside Pakistan as counterproductive and illegal and as a setback for domestic efforts against extremism, the countrys ambassador to the US said Tuesday.

Pakistani Ambassador Sherry Rehman rejected prevailing perceptions that her government publicly condemns the drone strikes while privately cooperating with the US on them. Instead, she says, the Pakistani government unequivocally opposes the strikes as a violation of sovereignty and as a recruitment tool for extremists.

There is no policy of quiet complacency, no wink and nod, Ambassador Rehman said at a Monitor breakfast with reporters in Washington.

The Pakistani diplomat insisted her country keenly interested in the stability of the South Asian region is expending considerable resources to enhance the security of its border with Afghanistan. But in terms of border interdiction and stability, she said, the US cannot expect Pakistan to accomplish what the US and its NATO partners could not ensure over a decade of operations in Afghanistan.

Rehman also rejected the complaints of some US and Afghan officials that Pakistan is not fully cooperating in efforts to promote an Afghan peace process through reconciliation for example, by not releasing the high-level Afghan Taliban prisoners it holds as a goodwill gesture for planned peace negotiations.

Rehman hinted that such releases including that of the Talibans former second in command, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, whom the government in Kabul wants released to facilitate talks may be coming. But, she also insisted, the peace process can succeed only if it is directed by Afghans.

What were saying is were putting our shoulder to the wheel, she said, but [the peace process] has to be led by Afghanistan. She added, It must be defined by them, led by them, goal-posted by them.

Pakistans focus is security and stability throughout South Asia, said Rehman, who referred to a historic shift that Pakistan is very consciously making.

Rehmans comments came as Afghan and Pakistani leaders met with British officials in London to discuss Afghan reconciliation efforts as NATO countries pursue a military drawdown that is set to have them out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014. …

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