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Sherry slams drones ahead of CIA talks

Published Jul 28, 2012 02:56am


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Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's ambassador to the US, speaks during an interview in Islamabad July 5, 2012. — Photo by Reuters

ASPEN: Pakistan's ambassador to the United States is calling for an end to CIA drone strikes ahead of an intelligence summit in Washington between the two countries expected next week.

In a frank debate on Friday with White House war adviser Douglas Lute, Ambassador Sherry Rehman said the drone attacks succeeded in damaging al Qaeda but are now only serving to recruit new militants. The two were speaking to an audience at the Aspen Security Forum.

''I am not saying drones have not assisted in the war against terror, but they have diminishing rate of returns,'' Sherry said, speaking by video teleconference from Washington.

''We will seek an end to drone strikes and there will be no compromise on that,'' she added.    Pakistan's spy chief, Lt. Gen. Zaheer ul Islam, is expected to reiterate the demand in his first meeting with CIA Director David Petraeus, at CIA headquarters in Virginia, next week.

Lute would not comment on the drone program, but US officials have said privately that the program will continue because Pakistan has proved incapable or unwilling to target militants the US considers dangerous.

A long-sought US apology to Pakistan over a deadly border incident cleared the way to restart counterterrorism talks, in which Pakistani officials say the US also will be asked to feed intelligence gathered by the pilot less aircraft to Pakistani jets and ground forces so they can target militants.

While neither side expects much progress, officials from both countries see the return to dialogue as a chance to repair a relationship dented by a series of incidents that damaged trust on both sides.

US officials remain angry over what they say is Pakistan's support of Taliban groups, including the militant Haqqani network, who shelter in Pakistan's tribal areas and attack troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

Sherry Rehman defended Pakistan's arrest of Dr. Shakil Afridi, who has been sentenced to more than three decades in prison for aiding the CIA in tracking down bin Laden by conducting a vaccine program in the military town where the terrorist mastermind turned out to be hiding.

US lawmakers have threatened to halt millions of dollars in aid to Pakistan if Afridi is not released, in recognition of his contribution to helping track down bin Laden. Afridi is appealing his sentence. ''He had no clue he was looking for Osama bin Laden,'' Sherry countered. ''He was contracting with a foreign intelligence agency.''

She added that Afridi's actions put thousands of children at risk because some vaccine programs had to be ended after Pakistani aid workers were targeted by the Taliban.

She also dismissed as ''outrageous'' a claim by some lawmakers that Pakistan is harboring al Qaeda or other militants who intend to harm the US.

She said Pakistan's army was working hard to combat the militants, including reporting 52 times to Nato in recent months when militants were spotted crossing into Afghan territory.

''Pakistan is maxed out on the international border with Afghanistan,'' she said of Pakistani efforts.

''Sovereignty has privileges but also comes with responsibilities,'' countered Lute who called for Pakistan to step up its efforts and to cease ''hedging its bets'' by supporting the Afghan Taliban.

The two did agree, however, that Pakistan could help broker an eventual peace deal with the Taliban.


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Comments (22) Closed

MAJanjua Jul 28, 2012 12:43pm
Very good Pakistan should tell all and sundry these comments and stay away from USA war and let them face the music, why get our brave men killed, children orphaned, women disgraced and widowed for nothing, let this be the fate for Americans.
Cyrus Howell Jul 28, 2012 06:51am
Hardly. Pakistan stabbed America in the back. More than once. America has to pay Pakistan not to protect it's Taliban heroes who are not even Pakistanis. "Welcome to Pakghanistan.
Karim Jul 28, 2012 08:47am
Still trying to hoodwink Pakistani public. Establishment has no respect for civilians and thinks it can fool them forever.
Cyrus Howell Jul 28, 2012 06:44am
Agree. There should be no drone strikes. The problem remains that the USA is in a war, while Pakistan is not in a war.
Cyrus Howell Jul 28, 2012 06:42am
Sort of my impression too. Diplomats make public statements about anything. They are not always true. Diplomacy is the science of governments who lie to each other.
Cyrus Howell Jul 28, 2012 06:39am
Get the money first.
Khalid Palijo Jul 28, 2012 10:32am
That's funny man. Get your memory tested and your history correct.
AWAN Jul 28, 2012 06:34am
she is working hard to actually end the Drone Strike...
Rai Musharraf Sultan Jul 28, 2012 10:06am
This is all Noora Kushti. Nothing but disinformation for public consumption. Pakistan's larger national interests are being ignored for personal or party gains. How can beggars be choosers?
Jahan Jul 28, 2012 07:21am
USA has woken up from a deep slumber.
G.A. Jul 28, 2012 08:08am
Remember the run up to the Iraq war and the bogus satellite images of trucks with biological weapons and yellow cake from Niger? How much credibility does the U.S. have? Ask Collin Powell.
Iqbal Jul 28, 2012 06:29am
relinquish covert support to terrorists, drones phenomenon would automatically be faded away!!
AmericanMuse Jul 28, 2012 04:03am
This is perplexing: 1. Drone attacks humiliate and demolish Pakistan's sovereignty. 2. Sherry lectures the Americans against drone attacks. 3. Pakistan continues to cravenly tolerate drone attacks on its citizens and territory.
Dilawer Jul 28, 2012 04:13am
Who is she fooling this time?
Dilawer Jul 28, 2012 04:15am
Beggers can't be chosers. She is in no position but to accept the consequences because she she taken some 1.2 B$ from US
G.A. Jul 28, 2012 08:29am
They say in the U.S. that you don't want a ticked of U.S. Marine or a Navy Seal on your back. Well, these Marines and Navy Seals don't want a ticked off Afghan on their backs.
Ali Jul 28, 2012 05:30am
US has destroyed Pakistan @ $ 1.2 b. US has no respect for Pakistan's sensitivities.... She wants India in and Pakistan out... This is the fruit of being American stoog for decades.
Holy Jul 28, 2012 05:44am
”We will seek an end to drone strikes and there will be no compromise on that,” Readers may recall something similar was said on the apology, there of course has been no apology....I will bet that this will be no different. Lesson: Pakistans word has no meaning whatsoever....
Lalat Jul 28, 2012 05:50am
Mr. Dilawer, The state is always on a denial mode. 1. Mumbai terrorist attack - Mr. Rehman Malik was more than sure that Kasab is not from Pakistan. 2. OBL episode- State all the time denied about Osama's presence in Pakistan. Had Osama been recovered from a underground hole like that of Saddam Hussain, this claim could somehow be understood. 3. Abu Jindal - Mr. Rehman Malik reiterated " Anyone travelling with a fake Pakistani Passport is not a Pakistani." Then why on earth Pakistan wanted Abu Jindal to be handed over to Pakistan by Saudi authorities rather to India? The list can go on and on.
Alan Jul 28, 2012 06:09am
yes, beggers have been befooling themselves by saying, after every drone strike, that in future we will not tolerate drone attacks and that drama means if you don't stop we will not stop you. Instead of cowardly drone strikes they should drop their brave soldiers to kill terrorist in hand to hand fight minimising colatteral damage.
dar sd kom Jul 28, 2012 06:25am
Crack down on thenterrorist yourself and there will be no need for drones...
G.A. Jul 28, 2012 08:14am
Let's ask the dead Vietnamies and Iraqi civilians what they think of the U.S. war machine? Numbers easily go up in millions. Cambodia was blamed in Vietnam debacle and Pakistan for the incompetence shown in Afghanistan. If afghanistan had no neighbors the result would still have been the same. There was no Pakistan when the British got clobbered.