Pakistani ambassador opposes drone strikes

Feb. 6, 2013 at 1:37 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- There is "no wink and nod" from Islamabad to U.S. drone strikes at terrorist targets in Pakistan tribal areas, its U.S. envoy said while opposing the campaign.

Speaking in Washington to reporters at the Christian Science Monitor at a breakfast, Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, rejected reports that her government privately supports the drone strike campaign, while publicly attacking it for domestic reasons.

The ambassador told the Monitor the drone strikes not only work against Pakistan's own efforts to fight extremism but violate Pakistan's sovereignty.

She said her government also opposes the strikes as they only aid the extremists with their recruitment.

"There is no policy of quiet complacency, no wink and nod," Rehman told the newspaper.

She said Pakistan seeks stability in South Asia and is doing all it can to ensure security along the border with Afghanistan but warned the United States cannot expect her country to achieve what it and the NATO forces could not despite a decade-long involvement in that country.

Rehman cited recent releases of Taliban prisoners from Pakistani custody to counter U.S. and Afghan criticism that Pakistan is not doing enough to promote the Afghan peace talks with the insurgents.

Pakistan has been accused of trying to use the insurgents to increase its influence in Afghanistan once NATO and U.S. forces leave Afghanistan by 2014. Islamabad has denied the accusations.

"What we're saying is we're putting our shoulder to the wheel, but (the peace process) has to be led by Afghanistan," Rehman said. "It must be defined by them, led by them, goal-posted by them."

This week, the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan met in London for their trilateral summit with British Prime Minister David Cameron and agreed to work on a peace deal in the region within six months.

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