US must take Pakistan drone concerns seriously: Sharif

By AFP
Published: May 13, 2013

Nawaz Sharif, the leader of Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) points as he speaks to foreign reporters at his residence in Lahore May 13, 2013. PHOTO: REUTERS

RAIWIND: Pakistan’s incoming prime minister said Monday he wanted to strengthen his country’s fractious relations with the United States but warned Washington must take seriously their concerns about drone strikes.

Nawaz Sharif, who won an unprecedented third term in Saturday’s general election, said the US would have Pakistan’s “full support” as it withdraws the bulk of its forces from Afghanistan by the end of next year.

Missile attacks by unmanned drone aircraft on militant targets in Pakistan’s tribal northwest, a haven for Taliban and al Qaeda fighters along the Afghan border, have been a public thorn in relations in recent years.

Washington sees the attacks as an important weapon in the fight against extremism but they are unpopular in Pakistan because of reports of civilian casualties and because they are seen as an infringement of sovereignty.

Sharif told foreign journalists at his estate outside the eastern city of Lahore that he would discuss the issue with the US.

“Drones are indeed a challenge to our sovereignty. Of course we have taken this matter up very seriously and also spoken to the Americans during our meetings,” he said.

“This is a very important issue and our concern must be understood properly. We will sit with our American friends and we will certainly talk to them on this issue.”

Sharif’s last term as premier came to an abrupt end when he was deposed in a coup led by then-army chief General Pervez Musharraf.

The military ruler enjoyed good relations with Washington, but ties were hammered by a series of crises under the outgoing government led by the Pakistan People’s Party.

Relations reached rock bottom when Pakistan closed overland NATO supply lines for six months in response to a botched US air raid that killed 24 border guards.

Ties have warmed again in recent months and Sharif said he would work to see that this continued.

“I think we have good relations with the United States of America. We certainly have to listen to each other,” he said.

“If there are concerns on either side I think we should address those concerns and strengthen this relationship.”

The US and NATO are due to pull out the bulk of their troops and equipment built up in 11 years of fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan by the end of next year and Sharif pledged Pakistan’s cooperation.

“We will facilitate the Americans as far as the withdrawal is concerned,” he said.

“American troops are being withdrawn in 2014 and we will extend full support to them and we will see everything goes smoothly.”

Reader Comments (32)

  • Imran
    May 13, 2013 - 6:09PM

    We know why you have been given seats (through rigging). Zardari was no more a good choice and Imran Khan would never have allowed USA to leave the mess in Pakistan like the way you have said prior to taking Oath as PM. It was all planned event …I mean this elections.

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  • Khair Khaw
    May 13, 2013 - 6:11PM

    Balanced statement. Is NS becoming a statesman, really?

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  • hra
    May 13, 2013 - 6:14PM

    That is it!!! that is all he has to say about drones. Wasn’t he in favor of stopping drone attacks during campaign.

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  • Aahjiz BayNawa
    May 13, 2013 - 6:16PM

    His posture, even his posing has improved.

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  • No
    May 13, 2013 - 6:17PM

    I hate conspiracy theories, but this feels like the final act of the US and UK facilitated NRO….
    I do hope SC and ECP take serious note of the allegations of vote rigging in Punjab, Sind (including Karachi) and KPK where women were barred in certain areas.

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  • from Dubai
    May 13, 2013 - 6:25PM

    Let the US takes you (NS) seriously first.

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  • EHM
    May 13, 2013 - 6:28PM

    Another Rehman Malik in the making, when he were used to say “Hum Kisi ko dehshat gardi ke ijazat nahi dain ga.”

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  • Nabidad Khan — Sharjah
    May 13, 2013 - 6:41PM

    There is very clear deference between the gesture of the picture of Mian Nawaz Sharif and language of Mian Nawaz Sharif. Now i understand why “people of Pakistan (Tahriq-e-Inshaf)” lost the election and Mian sb. won.

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  • Pakistani Ostrich
    May 13, 2013 - 7:08PM

    “This is a very important issue and our concern must be understood properly. We will sit with our American friends and we will certainly talk to them on this issue.”
    “I think we have good relations with the United States of America. We certainly have to listen to each other,” he said.
    “If there are concerns on either side I think we should address those concerns and strengthen this relationship.”

    Again, spoken like a true statesman!! Contrast this to the anti-USA,sloganeering, US-flag burning (but lining up to US embassy to get visa and no-shame in travelling to US to collect chanda for PTI from pakistani-US-citizen) pti/taliban crowd who had confrontational approach about drone issues.

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  • J
    May 13, 2013 - 7:10PM

    It’s like he is asking for mercy…. Stand up and defend your country our future PM….. According to the constitution you are responsible for protecting each and every citizen of the country….

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  • Khattak
    May 13, 2013 - 7:28PM

    Does this “full cooperation” means U turn on using jihadis & sanctuaries to gain foreign policy objective. Or it means only facilitating their withdrawals. Please explain your foreign policy if you have any.

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  • Farhan
    May 13, 2013 - 7:36PM

    Balance statement. Keep dealing big issues like this. All the best!

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  • Abrar R
    May 13, 2013 - 7:41PM

    hunh?? “NO more drone strikes” Mian Sb! .. Have the courage to say this?

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  • Raj - USA
    May 13, 2013 - 8:01PM

    NS is handling a very tricky issue so nicely.

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  • Rehan Naqvi
    May 13, 2013 - 8:07PM

    And the spineless statements begin.

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  • Shamy
    May 13, 2013 - 8:08PM

    They were always going to withdraw the forces by the end of 2014…u need to stop them NOW….that’s what you had promised !! cheat !

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  • AnisAqeel
    May 13, 2013 - 8:13PM

    He is showing some good statesmanship and good political, honest moves as such are very well needed to improve the Pakistani image around the globe. We don’t need to be macho man style but purely honest, humble and patriotic. Drones are work of our dictatorial past although they are doing good job to weed out terrorism and the burden doesn’t lie on Nawaz, so keep as it is.
    Instead of being hostile towards India as our military’s surviving policy, we must learn from them and believe that there is and was never any danger from any foreign source but from our own who controlled the entire country in the past and is still controlling a great deal. I am not N’s fan but would say bravo and not be dictated or intimidated on foreign policy and financial fronts anymore.

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  • sensible
    May 13, 2013 - 8:17PM

    ET you can use the same report for next 5 years, coz he’s gonna repeat same thing.

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  • Muddassir
    May 13, 2013 - 8:44PM

    @sensible: well said

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  • Pakistani
    May 13, 2013 - 8:47PM

    This proves that Pakistani people are right in protesting against PML(N) coming into power

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  • speakthe truth
    May 13, 2013 - 9:09PM

    @Imran:
    I think one can join the dots…..When Nawaz Sharif came to London some time back he was given protocol status by the British government……status also given by our Embassy……..TTP threatened Pakistanis not to attend PPP, MQM, & ANP jalsas and also threatened to target leaders of political parties and went ahead with it’s threats, so we were left with one and only biggest party to carry out it’s campaign. It is not rocket science. Everybody knows who is funding the TTP, those who maneuver our elections do not come in person to implement their orders but they carry them out through those such as TTP or even NGO’s!!

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  • Kosher Niazi
    May 13, 2013 - 9:39PM

    He must fire his press intel team. US is making nine new bases in Afghanistan, just got a go ahead from Karzai.

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  • asim
    May 13, 2013 - 10:49PM

    There is a tough challenge for SC as Nawaz attacked the SC in the past and he is unable to hold any public office as per constitution.
    He has violated many other articles of the constitution; lets see the rule is applied to the rich or ONLY for the poor

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  • Rex Minor
    May 13, 2013 - 11:35PM

    @Imran:
    The grapes are sour?

    Rex Minor

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  • Rex Minor
    May 13, 2013 - 11:46PM

    Hail Caesar,

    Do not falter now! You are the Caesar, those who violate Pakistan sovereignty, have no business to open their consulates or embassis. Period. You have been choosen to finish your cherished mission which was interrupted ten years ago, You have the divine support, they were angels from the haven who voted fo you. Lead the Nation to dignity, economic boom will follow whn the people unite and suppot you.

    Rex Minor

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  • Redi
    May 14, 2013 - 12:02AM

    Seriously?……huh

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  • np
    May 14, 2013 - 12:10AM

    @Kosher Niazi: Afghanistan IS a sovereign country you know.

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  • Rule of Law
    May 14, 2013 - 12:10AM

    Once again Mian Nawaz Sharif proves that he is the most sensible and mature leader that Pakistan desperately needs today. He is a great statesman and take the Country out of this mess left by the Dictator (now imprisoned) and his NRO beneficiary.
    Pakistan re-starts the journey which was halted 14 years ago!

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  • May 14, 2013 - 1:10AM

    @from Dubai

    We cannot over emphasize Pakistan’s importance in the region. The proof lies in the fact that despite many challenges and obstacles over the years, our nations continue to cooperate and coordinate on our shared goals. Our shared will and desire to fight terrorism continues to hold the utmost importance. We congratulate the nation of Pakistan on the successful completion of its parliamentary elections. We fully respect Pakistan’s independence and look forward to a healthy working relationship. We reiterate what President Barack Obama said: “My Administration looks forward to continuing our cooperation with the Pakistani government that emerges from this election as equal partners in supporting a more stable, secure, and prosperous future for the people of Pakistan”.

    Ali Khan

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  • Najeebullah
    May 14, 2013 - 1:22AM

    Stop the causes of drone strikes.

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  • Kosher Niazi
    May 14, 2013 - 7:00PM

    @np:
    Yes, same way as US is a democratic country.

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  • Aschraful Makhlooq
    May 15, 2013 - 10:36AM

    Mr. Mian Nawaz Sharif now the time has come to show the real and true practical courage and bravery to stop drones’ strikes not only by giving requesting verbal statements………

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