Pakistani leadership is considering approaching the UN Security Council (UNSC) to mount diplomatic pressure on the US administration for halting drone strikes inside its tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.
The move comes amid rising tensions on the streets against the attacks by the American CIA-operated pilot-less aircraft in North and South Waziristan tribal regions with some political parties taking out public rallies. US officials privately argue that these strikes are helpful in taking out “high-value targets” from al-Qaeda and affiliated groups allegedly hiding in the tribal badlands. However, officially, the Americans don’t own drone attacks.
But Pakistani leaders are opposed to these strikes, saying that they complicate the country’s counter-terror efforts by alienating the local tribal population.
There has been a significant rise in diplomatic tensions between Islamabad and Washington over these unilateral strikes despite several high-level contacts between the top diplomatic and military officials from both sides.
It was Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani who told the National Assembly recently that Islamabad would pile up diplomatic pressure on Washington for putting an end to drone hits.
Until now Pakistan has been negotiating with the US to stop these attacks bilaterally. But now Islamabad has decided to use multilateral forums, like the UN, to put diplomatic pressure on the US administration to end them.
“We have decided it in principle. We will soon be preparing our case for approaching the UN on these attacks,” a federal minister told The Express Tribunes requesting anonymity.
Another official also confirmed it. “Since the UNSC resolution that allowed international forces’ attack Afghanistan back in 2001 did not sanction any hot pursuit inside Pakistan, we have a solid case.”
Though it is still not decided how the UNSC would be asked to use its influence to stop drone attacks, the minister said the preferred methods might be to send a letter to the council through a cabinet panel.
The cabinet committee on national security had decided in a meeting last year that Pakistan should add “aggression” in its pursuit to secure Islamabad’s “vital” interests in Afghanistan by disseminating some “rough and tough” messages to Washington.
“That is what we want to do ahead of the Afghan endgame … our decision to go to the UNSC is a part of the policy of sending rough and tough messages,” the minister added.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2011.