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Khar says drone attacks “illegal, counterproductive’; efforts on to address issue PDF Print E-mail
app66-27newyork.jpgNEW YORK, Sept 27 (APP): Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar Thursday called the drone strikes inside Pakistani terrority “illegal, unlawful and counterproductive”, saying they were among the reasons for the rise of anti-Americanism in Pakistan. “Drones are a reason why the US is unpopular in Pakistan,” she said in response to a question at Asia Society where she spoke to a packed-to-capacity audience on the foreign policy goals of the democratic government.  “What the drones are trying to achieve, we may not disagree. We do not disagree. If they’re going for terrorists - we do not disagree,” the foreign minister said. 
“But we have to find ways which are lawful, which are legal.”
“The use of unilateral strikes on Pakistani territory is illegal,” she said. “It is illegal and it is unlawful.”
According to Khar, Pakistan’s government needs to build popular support for its own efforts to crush armed militant groups, but this is impossible as long as the war is viewed as US interference.
“As the drones fly over the territory of Pakistan, it becomes an American war and the whole logic of this being our fight, in our own interest, is immediately put aside and again it is a war imposed on us,” she said.
Ignoring Pakistani opposition to the drones, she said, is “about choosing to win the battle at the cost of the war.  These are battles. You get one terrorist, two terrorists, fine. But are you winning the war?” she asked.
“We must find a way how to handle this,” Khar added.
Asked about a newspaper report that the drone hits were taking place with the “tacit consent” of the Pakistan government, Khar said that she doesn’t comment on press reports.  Pakistan and  the United States, she said,  were trying to reshape their relations.
About the negative effects of the drone attack, the foreign minister, that suicide attacks which were virtually unknown in Pakistan multiplied to 352 over a after 9/11.
Khar also reminded the audience that extremism in the Pak-Afghan region grew out of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The United States and Pakistan cooperated for a good cause, arming the Muhajideen who were indoctrinated with extremist ideology. The United States chose to walk away from the region after the soviets were defeated leaving those armed elements behind.
The foreign minister said she was “embarrassed” by the the violence occurring on “Muslim streets” in reaction to the controversial movie uploaded to YouTube entitled Innocence of Muslims.  
“We do not condone violence,” Khar said. “That is not what Islam teaches us.”
But, Khar added, “If something is sensitive to the Muslims and you can’t really understand it, maybe you need to show some respect for that sensitivity and try to have a deeper debate to see what are the best ways to handle it.”
About the bounty offer by Pakistan’s Railway Minister, the forreign minister that the government and his own party—the ANP—have completely disassociated  from the statements made by him. “the views expressed by him were his own.”
In her speech to the Asia Society members, Khar outlined Pakistan’s desire to link itself to its immediate neighbors and surrounding regions, saying Pakistan regards Kabul as the most important capital in the world. 
Pakistan, she said, has dramatically improved its relations with both the Afghan government and its political opposit
“The national consensus across political parties in Pakistan today is that Afghanistan deserves the same dignity and respect, that Pakistan expects from other countries for itself,” the foreign minister said. “And the best way for Pakistan to express this respect is to be a partner to whichever government the Afghan people choose to have represent them.
“The practical effect of this turn of policy was an unprecedented outreach to the Afghan government, as well as to the entire spectrum of the Afghan political landscape,” she said, noting that President Zardazri invited only one foreign dignitary to his inauguration—President Hamid Karzai.
“From that day forward, we have been invested in a programme of trust and confidence building that has seen a dramatic improvement in our relationship with not only the Afghan government, but also the political opposition.
“As Foreign Minister, I have visited Afghanistan more than any other country. Indeed, one of the most affirming moments of my time as Foreign Minister was at my last visit there, when our Prime Minister opened the new Pakistan Embassy compound in Kabul,” she said. 
“At this event we were proud to host representatives of every single Afghan political party. Our signal to our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan is clear. We are walking the talk. We  have no favourites in Afghanistan. We are invested in brotherhood with the entire Afghan nation.
“Of course, this doesn’t mean that our relationship is  perfect,” she said. “We have many successes to show for in Afghanistan. Most important among them maybe the Afghan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement. We believe that Afghanistan and Pakistan can serve as the bridge between energy-rich Central Asia and energy-hungry South Asia. We are also proud to support development in Afghanistan. Despite our own fiscal challenges, we’ve provided over $300 million in aid through support for infrastructure and social “Yet, despite the successes and the increase in trust, we have both the baggage of history and the pressures of a tense situation in the border areas that is complicated by the fog of war’as Afghans, soldiers from NATO / ISAF and Pakistani soldiers all seek to secure the region from the terrorists that seek to destroy peace and stability in the region. For many years, those destroying peace and stability seem to be winning. We need to take that away from them. Peace and stability must win. For that to happen, we have to begin to invest more in mutual trust and understanding and less in the narrative
“Since the best route to resolving issues is to speak to each other, we believe that our unprecedented outreach to Afghanistan is not only paying dividends today, but will pay dividends far into the future.     
On India, the foreign minister said, “Here, this specific notion of talking and building confidence, even whilst we continue to disagree strongly on some issues, is even more valuable. 
“Kashmir continues to be an issue that stokes discontent and anger among young people in the region. We think a resolution is urgent and important. Other territorial issues also remain, chief among them, Sir Creek and Siachen. We believe that we need to disarm the naysayers on both sides of the border by resolving these issues.
“But the question is whether we wait to resolve these very complex issues before talking to our Indian friends about all  the other areas in which we could be making progress.
“We thought it was high time to turn the equation around. To use the vastly untapped potential of trade and people-to-people contacts, to help build the trust, and elevate the level of confidence we have in each other, so that tomorrow, when we do have better trust, we’ll be able to discuss the more difficult issues, more candidly, more frankly and with a view to real solutions. We decided that instead of being problem perpetuators, we wanted to be problem solvers. And along the way, at every step, we have invited our Indian friends to join us on this journey of mutual benefit.
“The normalization of trade relations was an issue on which for forty years, neither dictator, nor democrat had been able to forge consensus and move forward. The fear of political  blowback had always dwarfed the ambition of regional peace and progress. 
“When we initiated the process, an immediate reaction ensued.
But we were not deterred. We used empirical evidence, and we spoke to opponents of free trade with an open mind. We afforded our political opposition the respect that they deserve. We addressed some of the concerns of vested industrial and trade groups that felt threatened. And slowly, but surely, we came to the position that we are in today. We have already achieved the vital milestone of a conversion from a negative to a positive list. We believe the more robust trade relations between Pakistan and India will be help inoculate our relationship from the hair-trigger decisions that sometimes occur because our stakes in each other are so limited. Trade and commerce will enhance economic opportunities for our people, and help expand and deepen the stakes, and create a set of interdependencies that will raise the cost  of conflict.  That’s the  kind of future that I want for my kids. Its kind of  future every South Asian deserves. We must stop living under a canopy of fear and hostility.”

 
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