Reacting to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s claim about the presence of Ayman al Zawahiri in Pakistan, the foreign minister has asked Washington to share with Islamabad if it knows the whereabouts of the al Qaeda kingpin.
“We are part of the US war against al Qaeda … We need specific intelligence sharing on al Zawahiri. Washington must share this information with Islamabad,” Hina Rabbani Khar said on Monday.
She was briefing the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) on the issue of US drone strikes in tribal regions and parliament’s guidelines on the country’s foreign policy.
“[As far as the US] drone strikes [are concerned], Pakistan and America have different stances,” Khar told the meeting. She said that Nato supply lines would be reopened only if the US tendered a formal apology over the 2011 deadly Nato air raid.
“Until and unless the US tenders an apology, it will be difficult to move forward on the issue of reopening Nato supply routes,” she added. “This is exactly what the civil and military leaderships have agreed upon.”
Khar quashed the impression that last month’s talks with Marc Grossman, the top aide of President Barack Obama, had failed. But at the same time she conceded that no breakthrough was achieved.
“Pakistan has already conveyed its protest on drone attacks through US officials in Islamabad,” she said, adding that talks were under way on the future of Pakistan’s relationship with the US in the light of parliamentary guidelines. “[We hope] the US will respect our parliament’s recommendations on drone strikes.”
PCNS Chairman Raza Rabbani, while talking to the media after the meeting, condemned US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta’s statement on drone strikes.
“Such statements enrage public sentiments in Pakistan,” he added.
Senator Rabbani said US drone attacks violate the international law and Pakistan’s sovereignty.
He vowed that the country’s sovereignty would not be compromised at any cost.
On May 5 Panetta said that US pilot-less aircraft would continue to hit targets inside Pakistan, and rejected the stance that the attacks were a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi and the finance ministry’s adviser also briefed PCNS members on Grossman’s visit and on implementation of the resolution passed by parliament in April.
Today (Tuesday) the committee will take up the issue of missing persons with top officials of the intelligent agencies set to brief the committee.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2012.