US drone attack violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, says PM

Published May 23, 2016
This photograph taken on Saturday shows local residents gathering around a vehicle said to have been destroyed by a drone strike in Ahmad Wal area.—AFP
This photograph taken on Saturday shows local residents gathering around a vehicle said to have been destroyed by a drone strike in Ahmad Wal area.—AFP

KARACHI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday criticised the drone strike which the US carried out in Balochistan a day earlier and said that a strong protest had been lodged with the US over the attack.

Talking to reporters after his arrival in London for a medical check-up, he described the air strike in the Dalbandin area of Balochistan as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Mr Sharif was quoted by TV channels as having said that it was not clear that Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour was among the two people reportedly killed in the air strike, adding that details of the incident were still being collected.

Examine: US strike crosses ‘red line’ on Balochistan

A statement issued by the Foreign Office in Islamabad said the US had shared the information that a drone strike had been carried out in Pakistan near the Pak-Afghan border in which Mansour was targeted. The information was shared with Prime Minister Sharif and Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif after the strike.

The FO statement said that on the basis of information gathered till late Sunday a person identified as Wali Muhammad, son of Shah Muhammad, who carried a Pakistani passport and an identity card and who was a resident of Qila Abdullah, entered Pakistan through the Taftan border on Saturday.

His passport bore a valid Iranian visa. He was travelling on a vehicle hired from a transport company in Taftan. The vehicle was found destroyed at Kochaki along the Pak-Afghan border.

The driver was identified as Muhammad Azam whose body had been identified and handed over to his relatives.

The identity of the second body was being verified on the basis of evidence found at the scene and other relevant information.

The statement said that while investigations were being carried out, “Pakistan wishes to once again state that the drone attack was a violation of its sovereignty, an issue which has been raised with the United States in the past as well”.

The FO said that the fifth meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group held on May 18 had reiterated that a politically negotiated settlement was the only viable option for a lasting peace in Afghanistan and called upon the Taliban to give up violence and join peace talks.

Taliban reaction

A senior leader of the Afghan Taliban said that Mansour had been killed. Mullah Abdul Rauf told The Associated Press on Sunday that Mansour died in the air strike late on Friday night. However, a Wall Street Journal report quoted the Taliban officials in Afghanistan as saying that their leader was alive.

A member of the Taliban who is close to the militant leadership distributed a message to some associates promising to release an audio message proving Mansour was still alive.

“The attack did occur and some important military persons were there, but Mansour was not among them,” Mullah Abdul Samad Sani said, according to a person who received the message. “Now we deny it officially and in the next three days we will release Mansour’s audio message.”

A member of the Taliban press team, Emran Khalil, also published a tweet, calling the news “completely wrong”.

People close to the Taliban said the strike took place as senior ‘commanders’ were travelling to attend a wedding in a Pakistani village.

The Taliban’s chief justice official, Mullah Shaikh Abdul Hakim, could have been among those killed in the strike, they said.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2016

Opinion

Editorial

Wheat price crash
Updated 20 May, 2024

Wheat price crash

What the government has done to Punjab’s smallholder wheat growers by staying out of the market amid crashing prices is deplorable.
Afghan corruption
20 May, 2024

Afghan corruption

AMONGST the reasons that the Afghan Taliban marched into Kabul in August 2021 without any resistance to speak of ...
Volleyball triumph
20 May, 2024

Volleyball triumph

IN the last week, while Pakistan’s cricket team savoured a come-from-behind T20 series victory against Ireland,...
Border clashes
19 May, 2024

Border clashes

THE Pakistan-Afghanistan frontier has witnessed another series of flare-ups, this time in the Kurram tribal district...
Penalising the dutiful
19 May, 2024

Penalising the dutiful

DOES the government feel no remorse in burdening honest citizens with the cost of its own ineptitude? With the ...
Students in Kyrgyzstan
Updated 19 May, 2024

Students in Kyrgyzstan

The govt ought to take a direct approach comprising convincing communication with the students and Kyrgyz authorities.