More to Pak-US ties than just drones, says FO

Published December 27, 2013
Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasneem Aslam. — File Photo
Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasneem Aslam. — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Without specifically naming the United States, the Foreign Office on Thursday said that the issue of drones would not overshadow the country’s foreign relations despite a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution which last week called for making drone attacks compliant with the international law.

Cooperation with the United States on Afghanistan, the FO said, would, however, depend on the future American presence in the neighbouring country.

“We are very clear on that. Our foreign policy is not just on drones or our relations with one country. It is a wide spectrum. We have our national interests and we are working on many tracks with the international community to expand our relations and to promote economic development in Pakistan. We do not see the foreign policy or what we seek to achieve from it through the narrow prism of any single issue,” Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said at the weekly media briefing.

Her comments apparently contrasted the previous FO position that “drone strikes have a negative impact on the mutual desire of both countries (US and Pakistan) to forge a cordial and cooperative relationship”.

This position was last stated on Nov 1 and wasn’t reflected in subsequent statements on drones though there has been a ritual condemnation of the attacks.

The spokesperson’s remarks, which followed the latest drone attack in Miramshah and the first since the UNGA passed a resolution on drones, represented a possible softening of the government’s position on drone strikes.

However, while reiterating the policy position on the attacks, Ms Aslam said the government condemned the Thursday night’s attack in North Waziristan for being “a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

“It has been consistently maintained that drone strikes are counter-productive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives and have human rights and humanitarian implications. Such strikes also set dangerous precedents in inter-state relations,” she added.

She also noted that an international consensus against drone attacks existed now and was growing.

Regarding cooperation with the US on Afghanistan, she said, there was still lack of clarity about the future US presence in Afghanistan.

“It depends upon the events in Afghanistan and what kind of presence the US will have after 2014,” she said.

INDIA: Stepping back from the government’s claim that verdict on Kishanganga Dam by the International Court of Arbitration was a victory, Ms Aslam said she would not take it as a victory either for Pakistan or India.

She said it would rather be important to see how the verdict is implemented.

“We have to now implement it in letter and spirit. In seven years we will see how things work out. I won’t subscribe to this attitude of claiming victory or loss on every issue,” she said.

Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif had previously said that Pakistan had achieved “a big victory” for the Arbitration Court had accepted its right to the water of Kishinganga as riparian state.

About upcoming meeting of Pak-India commerce ministers on the sidelines of a Saarc meeting, the spokesperson said it would review progress on a roadmap agreed upon by commerce secretaries in September 2012 for trade liberalisation.

“The process (towards trade liberalisation) was disrupted when the composite dialogue got stalled. At this meeting, they (the ministers) would be reviewing what has been done and would chalk out a roadmap for the future,” she added.

CHINA: In reply to a question about nuclear cooperation with China, Ms Aslam said it was for peaceful purposes and was fully covered under IAEA safeguards, besides being in conformity with international commitments of both parties.

“The cooperation between Pakistan and China in civilian nuclear programmes helps Pakistan in overcoming shortages of electricity and it serves the interest of the Pakistan as you are aware that nuclear energy is a part of our energy mix,” the spokesperson said.

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