Quetta dorne attack ‘vitiated’ ties, Pakistan tells US

Islamabad, June 10 (IANS) Pakistan on Friday told visiting US officials that the recent US drone strike in its southwestern Balochistan province has “vitiated bilateral ties”.

Ambassador Richard Olson, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Peter Lavoy, Senior Advisor and Director for South Asian Affairs at the US National Security Council, arrived in Islamabad on Friday weeks after a US drone attack killed the Afghan Taliban chief at a time when efforts were underway to bring the Taliban to the negotiations table.

The US delegation held talks with Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry at the foreign ministry and held candid discussions on bilateral relations, regional security situation and the Afghan peace process in the wake of May 21 drone strike near Quetta in Balochistan, a foreign ministry statement said.

“The Advisor conveyed a strong message to the US that the 21 May drone strike was not only a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and breach of the principles of the United Nation’s Charter, but has also vitiated bilateral ties,” the statement reads.

“It was emphasized that any future drone strike in Pakistan will be detrimental to our common desire to strengthen relations,” the statement added.

Aziz, according to the statement, expressed his concern that the drone strike had seriously undermined the ongoing efforts for Afghan peace and reconciliation process at a time when Pakistan, along with other Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) countries, was engaged in serious efforts to revive peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

“The foreign secretary recalled that in QCG’s fifth meeting on May 18 in Islamabad, it was decided that peace negotiations remained the only option for a political settlement. He emphasized that this would require collective efforts on the part of all QCG members to promote lasting peace in Afghanistan,” the foreign ministry statement noted.

In response to US queries on safe havens for Taliban, it was emphasized that Pakistan is already pursuing its objective of eliminating all militants and terrorists from its soil in accordance with an anti-terror policy known as the National Action Plan.

The Pakistani side asked the US officials to push the Afghan government to take action against the Pakistani militants on the Afghan side of the border.

Peter Lavoy said that US President Obama was committed to improving relations with Pakistan as emphasized during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington in October 2015, the statement said.

He also conveyed President Obama’s good wishes for speedy recovery of Nawaz Sharif, who is in London after his recent open heart surgery.

–IANS

ahm/vt

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