Envoy blasts Obama for drone strikes

February 07, 2013 - 6:02:48 am

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s ambassador to the US yesterday blasted the Obama administration for continued drone strikes in Federally Administrative Tribal Areas, calling violations a ‘red line’ that should not be crossed.

During a meeting with Christian Science Monitor staff, Sherry Rehman said that drones strikes were a clear violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and a violation of international law that threatened stable relations between both governments.

She rejected media reports that Pakistan tacitly approved the strikes while denouncing them publicly as untrue. “Let me assure you that since we have been in government, there has been no quiet complicity, no question of wink and nod,” she said.

The US has launched hundreds of drone strikes, killing dozens of militants. While Pakistan appreciates the elimination of some key terrorists, it says that the drones also have killed a large number of innocent civilians.

Pakistan warned that civilian deaths are counter-productive as they increased public sympathy for militants.

Calling for an end to attacks, she said that the drone strategy created more potential terrorists and militants instead of taking them out.

“We need to drain the swamp, but instead it is radicalising people.”

Rehman said the US had failed to appreciate Pakistan’s terrorism problems and counter-terrorism operations, which have cost nearly 50,000 military and civilian lives and billions of dollars in expenditures and lost income over the past decade.

She said Pakistan was concerned that the US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan would leave the kind of “detritus we were left to deal with after the US departure from the region in the early 1990s”.

She said that the US and Pakistan had overcome years of chronic distrust and periods of crisis management and Pakistan was now looking for an enduring, sustainable relationship with the US, based on mutual respect and cooperation.          internews