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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs