ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has told the United States that any drone strikes conducted by the latter in Pakistani territory in the future would be detrimental to the relationship between the two countries.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz conveyed the sentiments during high-level talks between Pakistan officials and a visiting US delegation of senior White House officials on Friday.
The US side was led by US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson and Senior Adviser and Senior Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the US National Security Council Dr Peter Lavoy. The Pakistan side was represented by Aziz and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry.
Aziz told the US officials that the May 21 drone strike in Balochistan, which killed Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, "was not only a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and breach of the principles of the United Nation’s Charter, but has also vitiated bilateral ties".
The two sides held candid discussions on bilateral relations, regional security situation and the Afghan peace process in wake of the US drone strike in Pakistan, said a Foreign Office statement.
The adviser further expressed his concern that the drone strike had "seriously undermined the ongoing efforts for Afghan peace and reconciliation process at a time when Pakistan, along with other Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) countries, was engaged in serious efforts to revive peace talks between Afghan Government and the Taliban".
The foreign secretary reminded the delegation that it was decided in QCG's fifth meeting on May 18 this year that peace negotiations remained the only option for a political settlement.
In response to US concerns over alleged safe havens of Taliban in Pakistan, it was emphasised that Pakistan is pursuing its objective of eliminating all militants and terrorists from its soil in accordance with the National Action Plan.
"At the same time, Pakistan would have to safeguard its own security through better border management and early repatriation of Afghan refugees".
The meeting was informed that Pakistan also expects action by Afghan forces against Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) operatives in Afghanistan. Such steps would reduce mistrust between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the officials said.
Dr Lavoy said President Obama was committed to improving relations with Pakistan as emphasised during the premier's visit to Washington in October 2015. He also conveyed the US president's good wishes for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speedy recovery after his heart surgery.
The visit of Dr Lavoy and Ambassador Olson takes place as civil and military leadership of Pakistan observed that the US drone attack, which eliminated Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour, damaged mutual trust.
The perpetually oscillating Pak-US relationship is once again at low as reflected by the Congressional restriction on financing of F-16 fighters’ sale from Foreign Military Financing programme, because of which Pakistan lost the opportunity to buy the jets.