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Denies intelligence being provided to US; says issue to be resolved bilaterally, several proposals under consideration to find ‘mutually-acceptable solution’
 
 
Mariana Baabar
Saturday, August 25, 2012
From Print Edition
 
 

 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has absolutely nothing to do with the drone strikes, the Foreign Office spokesman said here on Friday, denying that any intelligence was being provided to the United States.

 

Pakistan is averse to internationalising the recurrent US drone attacks on its territory and prefers to deal with it bilaterally, though a number of other options are available. Presently, both the governments are looking at several proposals, which would find a way to work around these attacks on Pakistani soil, but it is too early to discuss them publicly.

 

Barely does Pakistan finish condemning one drone attack, even handing out demarche to the US embassy, it has to helplessly watch more such attacks immediately afterwards, as was the case on Thursday. Speculation abound that the United States is softening the targets inside North Waziristan before the Pakistan Army goes in to take out the militants, but there has been no reaction from the government here.

 

When asked if Pakistan was serious to take up the issue at the United Nations or move the International Court of Justice, the spokesman at the Foreign Office shied away from such drastic steps.

 

“On drone attacks our position is very clear. As we have repeatedly said that we regard drone attacks as illegal, counter-productive, violation of our sovereignty, territorial integrity and in contravention of international law. Having said that, we are engaging the US leadership at various levels on this issue and are working on various proposals. We hope to come up with a mutually acceptable solution to this issue. There are other options available but at the moment we are dealing with this issue bilaterally,” he commented at the weekly press briefing.

 

The spokesman said that Pakistan has absolutely nothing to do with these strikes, denying that any intelligence was being provided to the United States. The spokesman said he was unaware of the exact number of civilian casualties as a result of these drone attacks in an environment that was “complicated” and “complex”.

 

However, at the policy level, he reiterated that Pakistan has been fighting extremism and terrorism in its own national interest. “Our Parliament has also said it very clearly that we would not allow our territory to be used against any country. There is national consensus and willingness not to allow our territory to be used against any country or to allow any militant to act against any country. It is a very complicated and complex situation, but we are dealing with this issue with strong determination and are following a well thought out strategy in this regard,” he added.

 

The spokesman disagreed with the opinion of one of the country’s former ambassadors to Washington, Husain Haqqani, who counselled that there should be a ‘divorce’ in bilateral relations with the United States.

 

“Well, this is basically his view and his opinion about the relationship. The government’s position on this is very different. We think that this is an important relationship. We also think that there is a desire on both sides to have this relationship moved forward on the basis of mutual respect and mutual interest. He is of the view that perhaps there is a need to manage the expectations. I think we are being very objective and pragmatic about this relationship,” said the spokesman.

 

However, he was not ready to comment on Richard Miniter’s forthcoming book alleging that General Kayani was aware of the US operation to take out Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.

 

“I think such reports and such anecdotal description do not really warrant an official response on our part. And if you are referring here to that book which is not out yet, it will be too early to respond to that question or comment on that book. I do not really want to respond on such anecdotal and speculative reports. In any case, it is for the ISPR to comment on such things. And again, I would say that it is not for me to comment on a thing which is not public yet,” the spokesman said.

 

Pakistan has taken up with Saudi Arabia cases of Pakistanis who have been jailed for “minor” acts and Pakistan’s consul general in Jeddah has arranged meetings of these Pakistanis with their families.