Wrapping up her first official visit to the US capital, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said she feels there is a better realisation in the US regarding the negative fallout of drone strikes in Pakistan.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference at the Embassy of Pakistan, Foreign Minister Khar said the mission had detailed and frank discussions with the members of the US administration on drones, and reiterated Pakistan’s position that they are illegal and counterproductive.
Khar said the reason they were counterproductive is that when US drones carry out strikes, Pakistani officials have to hear remarks that this is the US’ war.
Khar said she felt there was better convergence between the US and Pakistan on issues of counter-terrorism and Afghanistan.
The foreign minister also announced that in her meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday, they decided that the working groups between the US and Pakistan would meet soon.
These would include working groups on security and proliferation, law enforcement and counterterrorism, energy and water, economy, finance and trade and defense consultation.
Khar, who also met White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon on Friday, said that Pakistan wanted to play the role of a facilitator in the Afghanistan reconciliation process, adding that there was more work to be done in the future, in addition to the work done by the ‘safe passage’ working group.
Khar also said that Dr Shakil Afridi was not a hero, and that he harmed the cause of the polio eradication campaign in Pakistan.
The foreign minister and her team, along with Pakistani Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman and Pakistan Embassy officials, will now head to New York to join President Asif Ali Zardari. The president is expected to address the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, September 25th.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2012.