News / Asia

    Drones, Afghanistan to Top Agenda During Pakistani Leader Trip to Washington

    FILE - Nawaz Sharif, then leader of Pakistan's largest opposition party, gestures during a media conference in Islamabad, Pakistan.
    FILE - Nawaz Sharif, then leader of Pakistan's largest opposition party, gestures during a media conference in Islamabad, Pakistan.
    Ayaz Gul
    Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will meet President Barack Obama in Washington next week on October 23, his first interaction with the U.S. leader since entering office in June. No breakthroughs are anticipated on controversies such as U.S. drone strikes and the Pakistani military’s links with Afghan insurgents. However, despite mutual distrust and suspicion, Sharif’s upcoming meeting with Obama is seen as crucial for bilateral relations.
     
    Pakistan badly needs foreign assistance to overcome its economic troubles and deepening energy crisis.
     
    The United States will be heavily relying on Islamabad for a smooth withdrawal of most of American troops from neighboring Afghanistan next year. Moreover, Washington wants Pakistan to use its influence with the Afghan Taliban to convince the group to stop committing acts of violence and join the political reconciliation process.
     
    Bilateral relations hit rock bottom in 2011 and 2012 after an American military raid killed Osama bin Laden deep inside Pakistan and a NATO airstrike mistakenly killed some two dozen Pakistani border forces.
     
    However, Pakistan's minister for privatization and commerce, Khurram Dastgir Khan, told VOA that the newly elected government is serious about putting Pakistan-U.S. ties “on a more firm and less personalized footing”.
     
    “We need to move, I think, beyond what has traditionally been a transactional mode of Pakistan-U.S. relationship and go into a more long term civilian relationship because what we have seen so far has principally been a military relationship between the two countries,” said Khan.
     
    Khan went on to add that Pakistan has been seeking more trade with the United States, not financial aid. He also said Prime Minister Sharif will highlight this issue when he meets President Obama. However, the minister was cautious about the outcomes of the talks in general.  
     
    "I think there is a lot of work to be done in that area. I think we are coming off a very rocky 2012 in which Pakistan-U.S. relations for a few weeks really touched rock bottom. We are rebuilding our relationship with the U.S. but perhaps the 2012 debacle is something that we could learn from and convince the U.S. elected leadership that now Pakistan society is moving forward on a more firm democratic basis then it used to,” commented Khan.
     
    There are two contentious issues that have prevented Pakistan and the United States from reestablishing comprehensive relations. The first is the American drone strikes against targets on Pakistani soil.
     
    The other issue is that al-Qaida-linked militant sanctuaries in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area being used for staging insurgent attacks on U.S.-led international forces in Afghanistan.
     
    Pakistani officials say Prime Minister Sharif will take up the drone issue in the meeting with President Obama.
     
    Minister Khan insisted that for the United States drones are simply one of the many tools in the fight against terror, but they are fueling militancy in his country. 
     
    “The costs of the U.S. drone program are far higher [than] any claimed benefit, whether in terms of hitting the extremists that the U.S. claims… the number of high-profile extremists [killed] that can be claimed as a success of the drone program is really very small and, compared to that the civilian toll… has been too large,” said Khan.
     
    Pakistan insists it continues to pay a heavy human and financial cost for supporting the U.S. led war in neighboring Afghanistan. The policy, officials say, has outraged pro-Taliban religious extremists at home, who have unleashed a deadly insurgency in the country, killing more than 40,000 Pakistanis, including security forces.
     
    Despite the political tensions, the United States remains Pakistan’s biggest donor and largest source of foreign direct investment.
     
    U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Meghan Gregonis in Islamabad declared that “trade and investment are the future of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship," and that the United States is firmly committed to its partnership with Pakistan.
     
    She added that two-way trade in 2012 stood at more than five billion dollars and the United States is Pakistan’s largest export market.
     
    Both countries have been negotiating a Bilateral Investment Treaty for several years. U.S. officials hope those negotiations can be brought to a successful conclusion; perspective talks on the text have been completed and U.S officials are now awaiting a response from Pakistani officials on how they wish to proceed.

    You May Like

    Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    Video Canine Reading Buddies Help Students With Literacy

    Idea behind reading program is that sharing book with nonjudgmental companion boosts students' confidence and helps instill love of reading

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora