U.S.-Pakistan drone agreement : Strikes not mentioned in joint statement. Pakistani officials have for years secretly endorsed the U.S. drone program, even picking out at least one target for such an attack, according to a Washington Post report.
Neither the White House, the U.S. State Department nor the Pakistani Foreign Ministry would comment on the story, which said top secret CIA documents and Pakistani memos obtained by the Post described at least 65 such strikes between late 2007 and late 2011.
The story comes as Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif visited President Obama in Washington. Sharif told reporters he brought up the issue of drone strikes with Obama, “emphasizing the need for an end to such strikes.”
Rejecting a report by Washington Post on Pakistani government’s tacit approval to drone strikes, the spokesman said present government’s policy on the issue is very clear. “Whatever understanding there may or may not have been in the past, the current government is very clear on the matter. Drone strikes are violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and are also counter-productive. They too violate the international laws.” He hoped that US will respect consensus decision of whole the political leadership and the general public in Pakistan and review its strategy regarding drone attacks.
The spokesman said the meetings of expert-level working groups on energy and war against terrorism will be held in near future which is a major outcome of the prime minister’s visit. He said energy groups of both countries will meet in November, followed by a US-sponsored Pakistani trade mission meeting US energy companies in Houston Texas. He said, as per announcement by President Obama, US Trade Representative will invite his Pakistani counterpart to hold a council meeting of US-Pakistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
The spokesman said Pakistan wanted the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline be viewed in the context of acute energy needs. He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made Pakistan’s position clear during his visit to the US. “All options are on the table and government is pursuing the project,” he added.
The spokesman said there is no bilateral agreement between Pakistan and US on transfer of prisoners. Pakistan has applied for acceding to the Council of Europe Convention and any discussion on the issue of Dr Afia Siddiqui is possible once this process is done.
The spokesman also came hard on New Delhi for violating the LoC ceasefire agreement, expressing ‘disappointment’ that no progress has been made on ending ceasefire violations despite a meeting between Pakistani and Indian prime ministers.
He said Indian troops targeted 27 Pakistani posts along the LoC while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was visiting US. “Even the timing was so unfortunate. (It happened) when our prime minister was in US to meet President Obama,” he said.
The spokesperson said India should respect the ceasefire and reciprocate Pakistan’s sincere efforts for peace and stability in the region.
“We have absolutely no interest in agitating at LoC. Why would we do that at a time when our PM is visiting US,” he asked.
He said despite these violations, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has extended a hand of friendship to India and has repeatedly expressed Islamabad’s desire to have good relations with New Delhi.
“Our prime minister has repeatedly said he wants neighbourly relations with India. He wants to improve ties with India. But such things will also have to be addressed by military officials so that the next phase of improving relations can begin. Our sincerity is very clear.”
To a question that Pakistani troops also resorted to attacks on Indian posts, the spokesperson clarified, “Pakistani troops follow a policy of not indulging in firing first. They only retaliate when fired upon.”
“We agree that the ceasefire violations at the LoC are a matter of great concern. We believe that two prime ministers had agreed on a mechanism that DGMOs must meet immediately to resolve the matter,” he said and added that the two countries need to sit down and resolve these matters.