Drone attacks strain Pak ties with US: NYT
NEW YORK - Recent drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan have again complicated their relations with the United States, as American military forces prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, according to a report in an American newspaper on Saturday.
“Two separate but similarly bitter disagreements over drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan have complicated relations between the United States and those two countries at a delicate moment, again highlighting the political complications from America’s persistent reliance on the lethal remote-controlled weapons,” The New York Times said. “The use of these weapons, which is deeply resented, highlights the political costs to the United States of the drone campaigns, even as its range of military options in the region has started to narrow with American combat troops leaving Afghanistan,” the newspaper added. A recent drone strike in Afghanistan killed civilians forcing the US military commander to apologise to President Hamid Karzai who was angry at the civilian deaths and had a renewed reason to refuse to sign a long-term security agreement with the United. In Pakistan’s tribal belt, a CIA drone strike the other day killed a militant, days after the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, as part of its campaign to end the drone strikes, publicly named a man it said was America’s top spy in the country. The US military has restricted raids on Afghan homes, amid demands from President Karzai for a complete ban on such operations.
Afghan anger over one such raid last week led Karzai to insist on a ban, and he has said he will not sign the long-term security agreement with the US until such operations are definitively ceased.
“That leaves airstrikes, particularly by drones, as one of the last practical military options left to the American-led military coalition in Afghanistan,” the Times said.
The PTI accused the director of the CIA and the man it identified as the agency’s Islamabad station chief, of murder.
PTI chief Imran Khan has said the strikes have jeopardised efforts to start peace talks with Taliban insurgents.
“The US has nothing but contempt for Pakistan’s leadership,” Shireen Mazari, the party’s central information secretary, was quoted as saying, and called drone attacks a “direct test of the will of the federal government” led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Friday’s drone strike in Pakistan occurred at a delicate moment for the army, as leadership was passing from the previous army chief, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to his successor, Lt-Gen Raheel Sharif.