ISLAMABAD – Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, has called upon the United States to review its policy on drone strikes saying the strikes are counterproductive and are detrimental to peace efforts in the region.
Sartaj Aziz made the demand during a meeting with US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, James F. Dobbins who called on him on Tuesday, said a statement issued by the Foreign Office.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed Pakistan-U.S. bilateral relations and regional issues of common interest. Foreign Secretary Mr. Jalil Abbas Jilani was also present.
Dobbins was accompanied by U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson.
In the context of Afghanistan, developments relating to the Afghan peace and reconciliation process and matters pertaining to 2014 and beyond were discussed. The importance of accelerated progress in the Afghan reconciliation process was emphasized.
The Adviser also raised with Ambassador Dobbins the issue of drone attacks underscoring their counter-productive effect and reiterated the call to the U.S. to review its policy which has a negative impact on the Government’s efforts to bring peace and stability in Pakistan and the region.
Meanwhile, according to a press release issued by the US Embassy in Islamabad, Ambassador James F. Dobbins also met Minister of Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, among other officials. “Dobbins’ visit is a continuation of our bilateral engagement with Pakistan as the United States remains committed to fostering peace, security, and economic growth in the region,” said the statement.
Dobbins also discussed a number of elements of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, which was re-energized during the visit of Secretary of State John Kerry to Pakistan in August and reaffirmed by Prime Minister Sharif and President Obama in October 2013.
Three working groups under this Strategic Dialogue have met to date: The Energy Working Group met in Washington, D.C. on November 12; the Defense Consultative Group met in Washington, D.C. on November 21-22, and the Security, Strategic Stability, and Nonproliferation Working Group met in Islamabad on November 21, 2013, it added.
The Economics and Finance and the Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism working groups are expected to meet in the coming months, culminating in a Strategic Dialogue Ministerial meeting in early 2014.
As regards Pakistan-U.S. relations, the Adviser underlined the need for early convening of U.S.-Pakistan Working Groups on Law Enforcement and Counter Terrorism and Economy and Finance before the next round of Ministerial-level Strategic Dialogue expected in March 2014.
Interestingly, there is no mention of drone issue in the statement in the statement of the US Embassy released to the press.