Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Pakistan: Drone strikes complicate uneasy Pak-US relationship

US Pakistan relations
Source: IRNA

Islamabad, May 1, IRNA – Latest US drone strike in Pakistan has again complicated already uneasy relationship between US and Pakistan.

It is also widely believed that talks between US and Pakistan at different levels have also been failed.

The attacks by the unmanned aircraft fuel anti-American sentiment in Pakistan because they are seen as violations of sovereignty that inflict civilian casualties.

The latest drone strike in North Waziristan tribal region which killed three people shows that the US is in no mode to address Pakistan’s concerns over drone strikes in the country.

This was the first such attack since parliament last month approved new guidelines on relations with the United States, which included a call for an end to drone strikes in Pakistani territory.

The US and Pakistan resumed formal talks last week and US Special Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman held formal talks with the Pakistani leadership after nearly five months dead lock over a Nato air strike.

But these talks could not produce any positive result and media in the both the countries also say that the talks could not remove mistrust.

There are media reports quoting Pakistani official that Pakistan may boycott the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago and delay its decision to reopen NATO supply routes in retaliation for the latest US drone attack.

A statement issued by the Foreign Office denounced the latest strike as “a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty”.

“Such attacks are in total contravention of international law and established norms of interstate relations,” it added. The matter would be taken up through diplomatic channels both in Islamabad and Washington.

President Asif Ali Zardari had also reiterated the demand in his meeting with Marc Grossman in Islamabad few days ago. He told the US that drone attacks inside Pakistan are useless and counterproductive.

Zardari said that after Pakistan has followed the democratic course for the re-engagement with the US to be based on transparency, mutual interest and respect, it was now the US turn to fully appreciate the democratic course.

Marc Grossman also held separate meeting with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and discussed issues related to bilateral relations with special focus on the recommendations approved by the Pakistani parliament to reshape relations with the United States.

Media reports claim that Pak-US dialogue failed on Pakistan’s demand of apology from US.

The United States has refused to apologize to the NATO strike. The incident has damaged a dangerous partnership in the United States and Pakistan, and to stir up anger in Islamabad, and retaliation in the supply lines to NATO in Afghanistan cut.

As doubts linger over the government reopening the NATO supply lines, Jamatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed has made his stance clear over the issue. “Our talks with the US have failed,” said Saeed, while talking to the media before addressing a public gathering.

“They (the US) didn’t tender an apology over the Salala attack, nor agreed upon stopping the drone strikes,” Saeed pointed out.

In another move the US has decided to cut down the number of programmes funded by the USAID in Pakistan by 2013.

On April 25 a foreign military cargo aircraft was forced to land at the Karachi airport after information was received that it is carrying military equipment and to fly without permission over the country.

The plane, which was flying from the US-controlled Bagram airbase in Afghanistan to the United Arab Emirate, was asked to land at Karachi after it was found that it did not have clearances from the Pakistan’s Civil Aviation.

Reports said that NATO was using the aircraft for transporting military equipment and had no permission for it.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in an interview to western media has said Pakistan has spelt out in no uncertain terms that US drone aircraft strikes against militants inside its territory must stop, but Washington is not listening,

“On drones, the language is clear: a clear cessation of drone strikes,” Ms Khar said.

“I maintain the position that we’d told them categorically before. But they did not listen. I hope their listening will improve,” she said.

Earlier the Pakistani ambassador in Washington, Sherry Rehman, had admitted that her country relations with the US are certainly not “normal” times.

“Pakistan and the US tensions have never been so grave. We witnessed repeated episodes in recent times which undermined the relationship,” she said.

She said Pakistan wants to remain friends with the United States but our relationship must be based on mutual interests, respect and shared values.