WASHINGTON, July 10: The United States violates international law when it conducts drone strikes on Pakistani soil, says Ambassador to US Sherry Rehman.
In an interview to CNN, the ambassador identified many issues the US and Pakistan still needed to work on after resolving the dispute over the reopening of Nato supply lines.
“No, we have not agreed on anything. In fact, those conversations are yet to happen,” said the ambassador when asked if Pakistan had agreed to allow the drone strikes.
When the interviewer asked if she believed the United States violated international law when it conducted drone strikes on Pakistan’s territory, Ms Rehman said: “This is something that Pakistan has consistently said.”
She noted that the drone strikes were not only radicalising a large population but were also seen as predatory.
“It’s seen as against the law. And it continues to challenge a relationship that can actually accomplish a lot more on the ground than we are doing today in eliminating terrorism,” she said.
“Are you aware that President Obama himself personally oversees the strike list in certain sensitive cases?” asked the interviewer.
“We have not heard that that is actually the case. We would need to be told officially for me to give you a state response to that,” said the ambassador.
The CNN anchor, Christiane Amanpour, observed that Ambassador Rehman had played a key role in resolving the Nato supply routes dispute, constantly pushing for a US apology over the Salala attack although she was told by everybody that this was not possible.
“Why did it take seven months for, apparently, US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon to first say to the secretary of state, you can’t apologise; and then say yes, you can?” asked the interviewer.
“It really is not going to help both countries for me to go into details that might hold us back. And I think we need to look forward,” said the ambassador.“There were occasions when I thought that it was almost on the table. And there were occasions when it looked like it’s off the table.”
The anchor then described how the US tried to persuade Pakistan to give up its demand for an apology.
“The White House put a lot of pressure on Pakistan -- the US tried to shame Pakistan in the news media. You know perfectly well that your own president was denied a bilateral meeting with President Obama at the Nato summit,” said the anchor.
“It’s been described here as a failure for the US policy of bullying Pakistan. Do you see the US as bullying Pakistan? Or do you believe you have a better relationship than that?” she asked.
“I certainly think that there were pressures on Pakistan,” said the ambassador. “I think that what did really happen was it perhaps may be the politics of election year in Washington playing itself out.”
She pointed out that the US had told Pakistan from day one that there would no bilateral meetings between the two presidents during the Nato summit in Chicago.