ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s senior aide Sartaj Aziz told a US delegation on Friday that a drone strike in Balochistan targeting Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour not only affected Pakistan’s sovereignty, it also vitiated bilateral ties between the two countries.
A high-level us delegation called on Adviser to PM and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry on Friday, a Foreign Office statement said. Ambassador Richard Olson, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and Dr Peter Lavoy, Senior Adviser and Director for South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council comprised the US delegation, it added.
The participants held candid discussions on bilateral relations, regional security situation and Afghan peace process in the wake of drone strike in Naushki area on May 21 that killed Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour.
Aziz told the delegation that the airstrike was a breach of the principles of the United Nation’s charter and made it clear that any such attacks in future will be detrimental to common desire of strengthening relations.
He further said the strike had seriously undermined ongoing efforts for Afghan peace and reconciliation process.
The strike occurred at such a time when Pakistan, along with other Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) countries, was engaged in efforts to revive talks between Afghan government and Taliban.
Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry recalled that it was decided in the fifth QCG meeting on May 18 that peace negotiations remained the only option for a political settlement. He insisted it would require collective efforts on the part of all QCG members to promote lasting peace in Afghanistan.
In response to US queries on safe havens for Taliban, it was emphasised that Pakistan was already pursuing its objective of eliminating all militants and terrorists from its soil in accordance with the National Action Plan.
At the same time, the country would have to safeguard its own security through better border management and early repatriation of Afghan refugees.
Pakistan said it also expected action by Afghan forces against the operatives of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan. These steps would also help promote better relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan and reduce mistrust, it maintained.
Dr Peter Lavoy, while conveying US President Barack Obama’s good wishes for the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speedy recovery, said that Obama was committed to improving relations with Pakistan as highlighted during Nawaz’s visit to Washington in October 2015.
Pakistan has signalled that it may reassess its ties with the United States in the wake of recent developments, including closer defence ties between Washington and New Delhi.