By Iftikhar Ali
NEW YORK, Sept 27 : 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 Scoiety 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,”
- Pakistan endorses drones, rejects method: Khar (dawn.com)
- You: Pakistan rejects US media report on drone strikes (nation.com.pk)
- Pakistan-US working groups to meet under roadmap of cooperation (myglobalcommunitytoday.wordpress.com)
- Pakistani Foreign Minister: ‘We Do Need to Rethink How Much Freedom is Okay’ (cnsnews.com)