Drones to prevent possible attacks

February 07, 2014 - 9:17:27 am
ISLAMABAD: The United States has agreed to halt drone strikes in Pakistan except for stopping an attack on its forces in Afghanistan or targeting a major Al Qaeda figure, diplomatic sources said yesterday.

The sources said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had personally requested President Barack Obama during their meeting at the White House in October to stop drone attacks in Fata.

Pakistan conveyed its concerns over the drone strikes also when US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Islamabad in August and the two sides discussed it again during the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue in Washington eight days ago.

“Ultimately, Pakistan received the assurance that the drone strikes will be reduced,” said a senior official, who monitored the talks.

“The Americans accepted the Pakistani position but also said that there will be two exceptions: Drones will attack positions inside Fata to stop an imminent attack or to target a senior Al Qaeda figure.”

The sources said that at the White House meeting, the prime minister told President Obama that drone attacks “retard our efforts to bring stability to the tribal areas”, the official said. “The strikes also have a negative impact on peace talks with the Taliban.”

According to the sources, President Obama agreed to look into the PM’s request and to hold further talks with Pakistan on the issue.

While urging the US leader to share the drone technology and data with Pakistan, the prime minister reminded Obama that the two countries had acted jointly against Al Qaeda during the initial stages of the war against terrorists. He asked Obama to resume those joint actions.

The American president “agreed to further increase” the existing cooperation between the United States and Pakistan, said another official source.