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 International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid