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Drone strikes are “unjustified”: Khar

October 29, 2011

Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Hina Rabbani Khar - AP Photo

PERTH: Pakistan on Saturday termed the US drone attacks inside its territory as “unjustified” saying these were counterproductive and decreased space for creating support against extremists.

“Our leadership has always condemned these in the strongest terms and unjustified,” Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told students here at a lecture at the University of Western Australia, organized by the Australian Institute of International Affairs.

Khar, who is here for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) spoke on the challenges Pakistan was facing after the 9/11 and the ways it was dealing with these.

She rejected that Pakistan was into any “Double Game”, as alleged by the BBC in the war against terror as it has sacrificed so many precious lives.

“Were we not sincere, why the terrorists and extremists would be targeting our innocent people and security forces across the country,” she said.

“We lost 30,000 people besides around 6500 belonging to the security forces, with financial losses running in billions,” she told the students. “Still we are being blamed for terrorism.”

She termed the fight against the terrorists as taking place in the backdrop of a complex and uncertain regional situation.

“This is a fight we have to do for our own survival,” she said and added the terrorists had single agenda to destroy the social fabric of the Pakistani society.

She dwelt at length about the reasons leading to the creation of extremists and terrorists and attributed it to the vacuum created after the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Afghanistan.

She said Pakistan still has to host around 3.5 million Afghan refugees.

Khar said Islam was the most maligned and misinterpreted religion of the modern world.

She said it was being viewed quite opposite to what it really preaches - love and care for the fellow beings, whereas it is seen as a religion of violence.

She focused on the way today Pakistan is being perceived by the world and said the nation has a strong resilience and remains determined to rise above all challenges.

“We had seen some of the world's worst natural disasters like the earthquake of 2005 and the floods of 2010 and 2011, yet we managed to bounce back.”

The Foreign Minister in her lecture at the Centre for Muslim States and Societies of the University covered wide ranging issues - including role of women in all spheres of life in Pakistan and the challenges it was confronting, particularly in the wake of the ongoing war in Afghanistan and its fallout on Pakistan.

She said Pakistan's biggest foreign policy objective was peace and stability in its neighbourhood.

Talking about Pakistan's role in Afghanistan, she said it has “gigantic” interests in its strife torn neighbour and wants to ensure it stays secure and stable as it is in the vital interest of Pakistan.

Khar termed economic issues as the second and essentially linked most serious internal challenges confronting the country.

She termed the death of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani as most damaging for the Pakistan and Afghanistan relations and termed it a “death blow to the peace process.

She said blaming Pakistan was just complicating the matters.

She however hoped that President Asif Ali Zardari in his forthcoming meeting with President Hamid Karzai in Turkey would be able to clear up the misperceptions.

Ms Khar however was very clear that Pakistan does not want to see any chaos in Afghanistan post 2014.

“That is too horrific a scenario to imagine with grave implications not only for Afghanistan, but also for Pakistan and the region as a whole.

She stressed that clarity and strategic coherence were a sine qua non for realizing peace in Afghanistan and added, “We are therefore, working overtime to put our engagement with US back on track.”

Referring to the recent visit of Secretary Clinton to Pakistan, she said it has helped move the matters forward.

“There is no reason for Afghanistan, US and Pakistan not to be working together to achieve our shared objectives,” she said.

The Foreign Minister expressed the hope that the upcoming conferences in Istanbul and Bonn would achieve their objectives.

“This can only be done if we proceed with a clear sense of purpose and do not engage ourselves in the pursuit of objectives which are elusive,” she said.