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Says drone hits violate sovereignty; Dr Afia and Shakil Afridi’s matter to be reviewed; US should mediate on Kashmir
 
 
Murtaza Ali Shah
Friday, October 25, 2013
From Print Edition
 
 

 

LONDON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has stated that he does not necessarily share the view of Amnesty International that the US may be committing ‘war crimes’ through its drone attacks but strongly believes that they “violate Pakistan’s sovereignty” and hoped that these strikes will end soon.

 

Answering questions from The News after arriving in London early on Thursday morning outside his London residence, Nawaz Sharif said Amnesty International has its own assessment of US drone strikes and the damage they cause but Pakistan believes that the drones challenge Pakistan’s “territorial integrity” and also damage Pakistan’s “independence”.But Nawaz Sharif was in an upbeat mood about his talks with the US leadership, including a meeting with President Barack Obama.

 

“Inshaallah, there definitely will be progress on issues we have discussed. All the issues, including the drone campaigns, have to be settled through talks. A time will come when the drones issue will be resolved according to the wishes of the Pakistani people,” he said.

 

Nawaz Sharif, however, added that these issues must have been discussed candidly by the previous Pakistani governments with the Americans. “It didn’t happen unfortunately under the previous governments. We walk the talk, we mean what we say. I believe that Pakistani politics has to come out of hypocrisy.” Nawaz Sharif said that he has taken up all issues at relevant forums during his recent visit to the United States.

 

The premier said by raising the issue of Kashmir with President Obama and asking his country to mediate between India and Pakistan for a solution of one of the longest running world disputes, he had fulfilled his “responsibility”.

 

He said America should play a role in Kashmir dispute. “India doesn’t want that but we want the US to be involved. As a first priority, we can sit together and resolve this issue but if we fail to resolve our issues with each other then a third party can be asked to help mediate and there’s nothing wrong in it.”

 

On the issue of Dr Shakil Afridi, the CIA agent who helped catch Osama bin Laden, and Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the alleged al-Qaeda operative, Nawaz Sharif confirmed that the two sides had held talks and both sides “raised concerns”.

 

He added: “It’s important that both of us understand each other and we should try to address these concerns. The good thing is that the dialogue between the two sides has begun. As you heard President Obama on television, what he said is positive.” He said that once he is back in Pakistan, he will review and assess the talks held about Dr Aafia and Shakil Afridi.

 

Nawaz Sharif said his visit was a success and it was reflected in various top level meetings he held. He said the US officials showed great interest in issues and challenges Pakistan faces. “They discussed with us our issues of energy, economy and education. It shows that they are keenly interested Pakistani matters and Pakistan’s development. I have seen it for the first time. I had a long discussion with President Obama and we discussed all issues.”

 

The prime minister said he had invited US investors to come to Pakistan to invest in energy sector, hydropower, coal-based power projects, wind mills and solar projects. “We are building Bhasha Dam and work has begun on it. I am sure that lots of people will take interest in these projects. I am sure soon Pakistan’s energy issue will be resolved.”

 

When asked about revelations in a US newspaper that Pakistan tacitly approves drone strikes and provided land for the launch of these attacks and whether his government will share with the nation who made these deals, Nawaz Sharif said he believed that drones should stop.“We believe in transparency and we are a transparent government.”He refused to answer a question that who will be Pakistan’s next high commissioner.