News / Asia

Drone Strikes to Top Obama-Sharif Talks

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif looks towards photographers as he meets with Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department in Washington, Oct. 20, 2013.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif looks towards photographers as he meets with Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department in Washington, Oct. 20, 2013.
— President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan are due to meet Wednesday at the White House.  They will discuss a relationship marked by tensions in recent years, including the issue of U.S. drone attacks.

The talks come amid signs of improvement in a relationship that while unsteady, is one Washington describes as extremely important to U.S. regional and global security.

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke Sunday as he met with the Pakistani leader.

"The relationship with Pakistan could not be more important.  On its own, a democracy that is working hard to get its economy moving and deal with insurgency and also important to the regional stability," he said.

The U.S. recently released more than $1.6 billion in military and economic aid suspended after relations deteriorated following the 2011 U.S. special forces raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin-Laden.

Strained relations

Relations were also strained by a NATO air strike that mistakenly killed Pakistani border guards, and an incident in which a CIA contractor killed two men in Lahore, Pakistan.

Obama has spoken of the crucial role for Pakistan as American and other foreign forces move closer to a planned 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan.

But in Pakistan, one major issue of concern remains the drone strikes the United States continues to carry out, though on a lower scale, targeting suspected al-Qaida and militants.

"There is however the matter of drone strikes, which have deeply disturbed and agitated our people," said Sharif, who spoke Tuesday at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter says it is healthy for the debate over drones to be occurring at this time.

"Talking about drones and the difficulties that drones have posed as an issue is only the prelude to talking about counter-terrorism and the way in which both countries decide they are going to work together or not," he said.

Dan Markey, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, says the United States and Pakistan are not in alignment over which groups are targeted by drones.

"Both of them are willing to go after al-Qaida core leadership to some extent and both of them are certainly willing to go after Pakistani Taliban," he said. "There has been difference of opinion on Afghan Taliban and in particular [the] Haqqani network which the U.S. has seen as being affiliated with al-Qaida, has been wanting to target and has been targeting with drones, and which Pakistan sees as being less of a threat and certainly not a direct threat to Pakistani civilians or the Pakistani state."

Human rights groups critical

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued reports Tuesday detailing civilian casualties from U.S. drone strikes and calling for more transparency from the Obama administration.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the United States is reviewing the reports, but reiterated Obama's defense of the legal framework for use of drones.

"To the extent these reports claim that the U.S. has acted contrary to international law, we would strongly disagree," he said. "The administration has repeatedly emphasized the extraordinary care that we take to make sure counter terrorism actions are in accordance with all applicable law."

Obama spoke about the drone issue during a major speech on U.S. counterterrorism policy last March.

"By narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us and not the people they hide among, we are choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life," he said.

Under Obama drone strikes in Pakistan reached a peak in 2010, but have sharply decreased.  

Sharif spoke on Tuesday of the need to leave in the past a "trust deficit" in U.S.-Pakistan relations.  But it is clear that the drone issue will continue to be one of the most challenging issues for both sides.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: PermReader
October 23, 2013 9:32 AM
Shameful Islamists who possess or seek to obtain the weapons of the mass destruction and are ready to use it, cry hysterically against the use of the high-precision weapons of the America and Israel.

The drones are dangerous for the terrorists and other criminals only.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid