ISLAMABAD: Politician Imran Khan has repeatedly blamed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari for not speaking against drone strikes by the United States in Pakistan. The claim is false.
In a recent interview on October 1, which aired on ARY News, PTI chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan said that there were 400 drone strikes in the country and “not one statement was made [against it] by Nawaz Sharif or Asif Ali Zardari.” Khan made a similar statement on September 27 in Peshawar.
Talking to religious clerics, he said that when Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif were in power between 2008 and 2018, “America conducted 400 drone attacks in Pakistan, which was a violation of human rights…Not once did they speak against it. Only the PTI protested against it.”
Geo Fact-Check has found several official statements by Sharif and Zardari, made between 2008 and 2018, which condemned the drone strikes. Some of these statements have been reproduced below:
May 7, 2009: Then president Asif Ali Zardari discussed the drone strikes with then US president Barack Obama in Washington, where Pakistan expressed hope that the United States will halt the attacks, stated an official press release.
May 27, 2011: In a meeting with then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, Zardari spoke about drone attacks and “emphatically underlined the need to revisit the issue,” as per a press release by the ministry of foreign affairs.
May 21, 2012: During a NATO meeting, then president Zardari pressed the United States to help find a permanent solution to drone strikes, as it violated Pakistan’s sovereignty, reported Reuters.
September 25, 2012: While addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Zardari said that no country and its people had suffered more in the “epic struggle” against terrorism than Pakistan. “Drone strikes and civilian casualties on our territory add to the complexity of our battle for hearts and minds through this epic struggle,” he added.
June 8, 2013: Then prime minister Nawaz Sharif summoned the US ambassador to protest a drone strike that killed nine people in North Waziristan, reported The Guardian.
August 20, 2013: In his first address to the nation, after assuming office in 2013, Nawaz Sharif spoke about drone attacks in the country, amongst other issues. He said: “I have very clearly expressed my viewpoint that the drone attacks are an open violation of Pakistan’s national sovereignty and independence… I have informed the American government about the gravity and importance of these attacks.”
September 27, 2013: In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Sharif said: “The use of armed drones in the border areas of Pakistan is a continued violation of our territorial integrity.”
December 9, 2013: As per a press release by the ministry of foreign affairs, then prime minister Nawaz Sharif met with the US secretary of defence in Islamabad.
“The Prime Minister conveyed Pakistan’s deep concern over continuing US drone strikes, stressing that drone strikes were counter-productive to our efforts to combat terrorism and extremism.”
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