US rebuffs call to wrap up its drone war

Published: March 23, 2012

US senators also against discontinuation of drone programme. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Parliament’s unfamiliar path to guide foreign policy has already hit its first roadblock. The United States has allegedly refused to revisit its policy governing drone use in Pakistan’s tribal badlands.

The message was conveyed by US Ambassador Cameron Munter in a meeting here on Thursday with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, sources say, where the two discussed the revised terms of engagement with the US tabled before parliament earlier this week.

The 40-point report of the all-party Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS), presented in a joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate, included calls for US and Nato forces in Afghanistan to pay charges for the transit of their supplies via Pakistan, an “unconditional” US apology for a deadly attack on Pakistani border posts in November and a halt to drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

According to sources, the US envoy informed the foreign minister that even though Washington was willing to tender a formal apology over the Nato airstrikes that killed at least two dozen Pakistani soldiers in Mohmand Agency, he ruled out the possibility of revisiting US policy of relying on unmanned aerial vehicles to pursue its battle against al Qeada and Taliban in the tribal areas.

According to a statement issued by the foreign ministry, the US ambassador said that the US fully respected Pakistan’s parliamentary process and was looking forward to putting relations back on track on the basis of mutual respect.

The Obama administration considers the CIA-led drone campaign in the tribal areas of Pakistan as a vital tool to dismantle the ability of al Qaeda and its affiliates to target US interests.

But the policy has stoked widespread anti-American sentiments in Pakistan and the civilian leadership sees it as counter-productive to its anti-terror efforts, even though there is suspicion that Islamabad might have a secret understanding with Washington on the use of drones.

An overturn of drone policy has also been ruled out by US Congressman Senator Joe Lieberman. Lieberman rejected the demand, saying “drone strikes are critically important to America’s national security. So obviously, I do not believe they should stop.”

US Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein believes that the drone campaign is needed due to an absent aggressive effort by Pakistan to root out terrorists and radical militants.

“I think the key is whether Pakistan will go into North Waziristan and other places and take out those terrorist leaders who are essentially fuelling and leading attacks against our troops in Afghanistan,” said Feinstein.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Abdul Basit rejected Feinstein’s assertion, insisting that there was no question of Pakistan’s capacity to fight the war with its own resources.

“Pakistan has killed and arrested over 700 al Qaeda operatives so there is no question about our capacity. We are very confident. We can deal with it through our own national resources provided there is sharing of real-time intelligence,” Basit said.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2012.

Reader Comments (18)

  • Billoo Bhaya
    Mar 23, 2012 - 9:29AM

    Now what??? Are you then going to open Nato Routes?? If not then all Parliamentarians, Generals and Bureaucrats, who have bank and other undeclared assets in US and EU should be looking forward to their sequestration and money laundering charges being brought against them. So much for this Parliamentary BS. Pakistan is not India. We are a Rentier state and are treated as such..

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  • Harry Stone
    Mar 23, 2012 - 10:00AM

    Then one has to wonder just when PAK might start to fight…….?

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  • vasan
    Mar 23, 2012 - 10:10AM

    This is the crunch time. What can Pakistan do?

    Shoot down the drones, Not a wise alternative
    As usual declare that US has stopped drones, but continue to accept drone strikes as reality clandestinely. Blame the drones as a RAW/MOSSAD conspiracy like the statement made by the agencies about Balochistan in the courts.(That was a nice joke, isnt it)
    Promise to act and act on the terrorists in N and S Waziristan, Prove you can and will act and then demand that drones be stopped
    Ask what will make the US stop drone strikes and see whether Pakistan can do it on its own for a fee after building up the public opinion

    The 4th seems to be a viable and correct alternative

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  • MarkH
    Mar 23, 2012 - 10:14AM

    “Foreign ministry spokesperson Abdul Basit rejected Feinstein’s assertion, insisting that there was no question of Pakistan’s capacity to fight the war with its own resources.”

    Actions speak louder. They’re also the only credible way for Pakistan to communicate anymore.

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  • Cautious
    Mar 23, 2012 - 11:53AM

    Why should this be a surprise to anyone? The USA has made it’s position clear on this issue time and time again. Terrorist use your territory as an de facto sanctuary to launch attacks on your neighbors and allies — and if you won’t eliminate them then the USA believes it has the right/obligation to take out those bad guys who are trying to kill their soldiers. Denying the supply route is an inconvenience but wars are not fought because they are convenient. Pakistan has severely overestimated it’s leverage on the USA — I would add that it has also underestimated the leverage that the USA has over the future of Pakistan.

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  • fahad
    Mar 23, 2012 - 12:00PM

    @Harry Stone:
    fight who?

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  • Mar 23, 2012 - 12:45PM

    @Billoo Bhaya:
    Generals, bureaucrats and minister will pack their suite cases and fly to Miami, Washington and will leave the Pakistan too to patriots in the time of need

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  • IFTIKHAR-UR-REHMAN
    Mar 23, 2012 - 1:08PM

    Still want to resume the NATO supplies through Pakistan??? You do it I am 100% sure there are going to be some serious repercussions!!!!

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  • Jahil online
    Mar 23, 2012 - 2:46PM

    Dear Uncle Sam please continue your drone strikes and also extend them to cover inner cities. Our leaders are to weak and afraid to confront terrorists in Pakistan – we openly allow our ministers to attend rallies of banned outfits. Our leadership is to impotent to confront the fact that terrorism is being exported all over the world from Pakistan – Please do the whole world a favour and increase your strikes!

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  • Mohsin
    Mar 23, 2012 - 4:35PM

    Well..Feinstein. The terrorist have probably taken the bus and moved out of North Waziristan havent they? Recommend

  • Mr Mullah
    Mar 23, 2012 - 4:57PM

    Hi everyone can you please let me know if any villa’s with reinforced underground bunker are for sale in Abbotabad area. PLease do not worry about payment as the government will be happy to use its foreign reserves to make sure a troublemaker , murderer and extremist like me who incites violence against other muslims and non muslims alike is well kept in luxury while the common man starves. And remember anyone who cannot find me a place to stay is wajib ul katil – Best regards mr mullah

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  • Bhindian
    Mar 23, 2012 - 5:48PM

    ofcourse they won’t stop drone attacks..did you really expect terrorists to stop terrorist attacks?

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  • Falcon
    Mar 23, 2012 - 6:46PM

    That’s a really sad development. The problem that most people are not being able to understand is the blow back of this policy on the ideological state of our nation and how this issue alone has contributed to radicalization. Locals will not help the state until it is fully established that it is not a US backed war. The only solution is to ask for a break of few months, do operations in these areas, catch some terrorists, and show we are ourselves capable and therefore, don’t need your help. Secondly, we need people in Washington who can represent Pakistan’s position in a much better manner. US is taking the convenient route and it is Pakistani nation who has to face the blowback.

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  • Jadugar
    Mar 23, 2012 - 8:27PM

    I would protest innocent civilian casualties, which I believe is not the US intent but I totally support the Drones against the Taliban who are not only common criminals but an organized terrorist group. Drone should not stop till they surrender or give up terrorism.

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  • gp65
    Mar 25, 2012 - 6:35AM

    @Falcon: “The problem that most people are not being able to understand is the blow back of this policy on the ideological state of our nation and how this issue alone has contributed to radicalization. “

    So you are not against tackling militants with military operations. You just oppose drones. In other words you differ not with the strategy but with the tactics. Imran Khan and PTI leadership whom you support however is against military operations also.Pakistan too has conducted operations against TTP (which is an internal insurgency) but been reluctant to conduct a military operation in North Waziristan where the Haqqanis and Afghan Taliban leadership is holed up. Since those are the militants that NATO is fighting and Pakistan refuse to confront them, how can you expect USA to stop the drones?

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  • Eye
    Mar 25, 2012 - 7:27AM

    @Jadugar- You are an Indian and should be careful about propagating violence in Pakistan.
    Violence begets violence. Drones do not contribute to peace but are anti peace and Pakistan should handle its own affairs unless it invites other countries for help.

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  • Concern1
    Mar 25, 2012 - 8:08AM

    Americans have the right so must Pakistan have the right to bomb one terrorist Goerge W Bush & his evil cronies who were responsible for lying to the world & starting this war.

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  • Manna
    Mar 26, 2012 - 2:33PM

    @vasan: Ask what will make the US stop drone strikes and see whether Pakistan can do it on its own for a fee after building up the public opinion.

    This can be a Hindu Terrorist’s desire but it is not going to happen. Hindu Agenda is going to stop right here. So, you can simply desire , rest is not going to happen. Your problem is that you are a Hindu Terrorist State at the State level. Lots of issues are Pending , let the time come,. International community will resolve it with Your Hindu terrorism in the region. Just wait and see Indy Boy!!!

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