WASHINGTON, July 10 (APP): Pakistan has not okayed any American drone strikes on its territory in exchange for Washington’s apology over the Salala attacks, Pakistani ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman said.The ambassador told CNN that Pakistan continues to deem unilateral unmanned aerial attacks a violation of humanitarian and international law.Referring to the complexities of the drone programme, she said it tests the relationship at every juncture.“And we honestly feel that there are ‘better’ ways now of eliminating al Qaeda, which has been done with our help. We have been doing that consistently, ridding high and medium value targets consistently. We’re the heavy lifters in this relationship.”Although, the drones may appear as a precise tool to target militants, the damage they do in radicalizing people and challenging the bilateral relationship far outweigh the benefits, she said.
She said the drone strikes were not only radicalizing a large population, but was 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.”The Pakistani envoy, who, according to CNN played an
instrumental role in resolving the dispute over Salala attacks,
reiterated serious concerns the Pakistani people and Islamabad have over
drone strikes on its territory.
Sherry Rehman said Pakistan
considered the drone program counterproductive and said “the concerns
over drones ‘can’t just be brushed aside.”
She said the last week’s expression
of remorse by the United States - over killing of Pakistani soldiers in
November 26, 2011 in American cross-border attacks on the Salala posts
has certainly opened the way for constructive discussions on bilateral
relations, but “no, we have not agreed on anything,” she said, and added
that many conversations were yet to happen.
“As I said, the apology has opened
the space for an opportunity where we can have constructive
conversations on several strategic issue,” Ms Rehman told the American
news channel’s Christiana Amanpour in an interview.
The Pakistani ambassador drew
attention to the need for acknowledgement of her country’s huge
sacrifices and successes in the fight against terror.
“We need to understand that
Pakistan is looking for some amount of strategic sympathy in the losses
we have incurred over the last 10 years. We didn’t have more than one
suicide bombing before 2001.”
“So it’s not that we are saying
that all our troubles or volatility, even within parts of Pakistan,
have come as a result of joining force with the United States and NATO.
But much of it has. I think there needs to ‘be less tough talk in
Ambassador Rehman also pointed out
the need to bridge the lingering trust deficit between the two
countries. “There’s a trust deficit that you know about ‘between’ the
two countries, and we must work to build that, because both people are
quite able to work together.”
Regarding Shakil Afridi, the
Pakistani doctor employed by the CIA in hunt for Osama bin Laden before
the al-Qaeda chief’s death in an American cross-border operation last
year, the ambassador said the doctor had no knowledge about the goal
that he was working for he knew he was contracting with a foreign
intelligence agency, but he had no knowledge that he was seeking to
bring Osama bin Laden in.
“So let’s not lionize him.”
The envoy said Dr Afridi was known
to contract with terrorist outfits. He was even kidnapped by one, and he
was in many transactions on the ground, all over the place. She said no
country, including the US would allow its citizens to work with a
foreign intelligence agency in secret, whatever the cause.
“His conviction is really for
contracting with one of the terrorist groups that is waging or
attempting to attack our soldiers. We’ve had several martyred recently.”
The Ambassador forcefully
articulated Pakistan’s position against terrorism by saying that “they
haunt our own people and our own children, our girl schools, our
hospitals, our Sufi shrines. They have bombed our people almost every
day, including our police and security services.”
She said that its not something
Americans see, since Pakistan’s sacrifice was not the staple of
international television, but over the last ten years, terrorism has
transformed the daily reality of its people.
“We are a resilient people but it
doesn’t help to tell us to ‘continue’ to do more. It is our fight as
much as anyone else’s, because we are committed to eliminating terrorism
at its root and source,” Sherry Rehman said.