Finding common ground: Pakistan, US discussing alternative for drone strikes

Published: June 30, 2012
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Official denies Pakistan using contacts with Haqqani network to mount attacks against Nato forces. PHOTO: FILE

Official denies Pakistan using contacts with Haqqani network to mount attacks against Nato forces. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan and the United States are discussing a new mechanism that may lead to the cessation of the controversial drone campaign in tribal regions.

“The two sides have covered some ground towards finding alternatives to missile attacks by CIA’s remotely-piloted aircraft,” said a top government official, who is part of covert and overt talks with the US.

The official said the US has agreed to explore other options after Pakistan made it abundantly clear that drone strikes were unacceptable.

However, he did not give any timeframe nor would he say what alternatives the two estranged allies could exercise in the absence of drones, which the US believes are critical to eliminating high-value targets associated with al Qaeda and the Taliban.

In the past, Islamabad had suggested using F-16 fighter jets as an alternative to drones to take out wanted militants. But the US had reportedly shown little interest in the proposal.

Experts believe that given the election year in the US, the administration of US President Barack Obama is unlikely to take any drastic decision on the use of drones in the tribal areas.

The American reluctance is attributed to growing mistrust between the two allies. There is perception in Washington that Islamabad opposes the CIA campaign, not necessarily because of the issue of sovereignty and collateral damage, but due to the elimination of ‘pro-Pakistan’ militants.

But the Pakistani official sought to quash the impression saying that Islamabad considered al Qaeda as an existential threat.

“Had it not been the case, we would not have apprehended and killed hundreds of al Qaeda operatives,” he explained.

Asked about the Haqqani network, the official conceded that Pakistan’s security agencies maintained contacts with what the Americans call ‘the deadliest Afghan insurgents’ group’.

“This is an open secret. There are many countries which are not only in contact with the Haqqanis but held talks with them in the past,” he said.But he denied that Pakistan was using these contacts to mount attacks against the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan.

“Our policy of seeking a non-military solution to the Afghan imbroglio is somehow being misconstrued in the US as if we are playing a double game,” the official pointed out.

Turning to the ongoing deadlock over the resumption of Nato supplies, the official said that significant progress had been made on a number of issues.

“We are moving in the right direction and are close to finalising a mechanism that will ensure no Salala-like incidents in the future,” he added.

However, he confirmed that the issue of apology was the main stumbling block in reopening vital land routes for foreign forces in Afghanistan.

Though, there is unanimity of views that Nato supply routes should be reopened, it will only be possible if Washington offers a public apology over last year’s cross border raid, the official maintained.

His statement was also endorsed separately by Defence Minister Syed Naveed Qamar, who told reporters on Friday that the government stuck to its demand for an apology.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Syed Afaq Haider
    Jun 30, 2012 - 11:12AM

    plz change your format

    Recommend

  • Imran Con
    Jun 30, 2012 - 12:53PM

    “But he denied that Pakistan was using these contacts to mount attacks against the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan.”
    Yeah. For some reason I can’t imagine anyone sitting down and telling the officials of another country that they’ve been influencing the attacks behind the scenes.
    Though, even if such a statement doesn’t hold much weight, I still can’t recall that exact accusation in the first place. Being accused of allowing them safe havens and ignoring their activities against neighboring countries, even if originating on Pakistani soil, does not equal “using the Haqqani network” for anything. It’s not so much people believe you’re Haqqani network puppeteers. It’s that you turn a blind eye rather than even making the slightest effort to stop it, successful or otherwise, while complaining if others treat your problems the same way. That, too, could be overlooked if it wasn’t for the fact you don’t want to give others permission to take cross border action against them. It’s really simple. If you don’t want to let others deal with it, then you should. If you don’t want to, then someone else will eventually, Not only that, but very few countries would blame them for it as well. Probably even at the present time that would be how most countries would react to it.
    You don’t have any friends to back you up anymoreRecommend

  • Thoughtful
    Jun 30, 2012 - 12:54PM

    A unnamed Pakistani official speaking for the US? Not very credible reporting.

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  • Faraz
    Jun 30, 2012 - 1:09PM

    A step in the right direction.

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  • Usman
    Jun 30, 2012 - 1:55PM

    Militant attacking from Afghanistan have intelligence provided by US ,CIA other wise they cant attack Pakistan Army post in night…..

    There are reports Terrorists and killers wanted to Pakistan currently hiding in occupied Afghanistan have frequent meetings with US and Afghan troops…

    Recommend

  • nikarish
    Jun 30, 2012 - 1:58PM

    Let me guess….US will pay Pak for using F16s to wipe put their own terrorists. Level hypocracy…..

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  • Jun 30, 2012 - 3:24PM

    The Pakistan debt was forgiven, their aid comes in billions, Al Qaeda live, work, reside and plan atrocities among their supporters yet Pakistan have a great need to stop the most effective weapon against their leaders. There is a drastic need to know why this is so. The only collateral damage are Al Qaeda supporters and Pakistan are fully aware of this. They must come clean or lose their enormous financial aid.

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  • Polpot
    Jun 30, 2012 - 3:55PM

    ‘Pro-Pakistan’ militants” or “pro militant Pakistan”?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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  • kanwal
    Jun 30, 2012 - 7:20PM

    @colin washington
    Pakistani economy does not depend on US aid. Its what the US and PAk governments who benefit from this so-called money. How small do you think pakistani economy is?
    Besides, whatever you send in, you want to check a lot of your own banks’ accoumts to track a lot of the aid money your government is supposedly sending for pakistani people. Lol.

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  • Cautious
    Jun 30, 2012 - 8:22PM

    The alternative to drone strikes has always been on the table — handle the militants yourselves. Nothing new here. I suspect the USA drones are more accurate than F16’s.

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  • nrmr44
    Jun 30, 2012 - 9:10PM

    The issue is not Drones or F-16’s. The issue is the intelligence that leads to spotting the target. Whether that intelligence is transferred by the CIA or gathered by the ISI, there is going to be a dramatic lack of targets once control is handed over.

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  • American
    Jul 1, 2012 - 12:49AM

    Classic Pakistani obfuscation. The world will politely listen. That’s all they will do. Nobody takes Pakistan seriously.

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  • Hedgefunder
    Jul 1, 2012 - 1:20AM

    @nrmr44:
    Can Pakistan be trusted ?

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  • Jul 2, 2012 - 7:26AM

    Pakistan is receiving aid from any and all just about everyone knows that. The US forgave their debt and Pakistan will not live up to it’s commitment. This is the money I talk of it’s apart from all other aid given to this God forsaken country. Birds of a feather comes to mind when speaking of Pakistanis and terrorists. Not only that but for all the aid given to this country to feed and improve the well being of it’s people, what pray do they spend it on ? Nuclear weapons. Now they are concerned about their citizens being killed while associating with Al Qaeda leaders ? don’t make me laugh or insult my intelligence.

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