Drones to fly high on Pak agenda

Jun 17, 2013

By:   | http://www.nation.com.pk

ISLAMABAD – US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is tentatively to visit Pakistan later this month, will discuss crucial security and counterterrorism issues with the Pakistani civil and military leadership, sources said on Sunday.

Credible diplomatic sources told The Nation that US Secretary of State during his visit would be discussing regional security that entails reconciliation with Afghan Taliban, safe exit of US-led NATO forces by 2013 and counterterrorism cooperation.
“Issue of US drone strikes will be top of the list item that the government of Pakistan will discuss with John Kerry,” a senior official in the Foreign Office said without giving details.
Moreover the two sides would be discussing bilateral relations that have been in tatters for almost two years.
John Kerry who sought to visit shortly after his appointment as Secretary of State could only have direct interaction with the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani twice one in Jordan and another in Brussels and discussed reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
In Brussels, he hosted talks between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Army Chief Ashfaq Kayani as both the neighbouring countries were locked in state of mistrust on border disputes.
Following the talks, Kerry said progress had been made, but he added, “We have a lot of homework to do. We are not going to raise expectations or make promises that can’t be delivered.”
On the other hand, foreign policy experts do not seem much upbeat about any major breakthrough in US-Pakistan talks, saying the drone attacks issue might turn out to be major obstacle to make progress on bilateral relations and cooperation in regional security and counterterrrosim.
They are of the opinion that since this issue has gained much public importance in Pakistan with the US ostensible reluctance in stopping the drone hits might not help the two strategic partners in forwarding the bilateral relations and cooperation in the shared objectives.
Agencies add: US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said the other day that Secretary John Kerry will also visit India in the course of his first trip to the region as the top American diplomat.
“The Secretary is looking forward to visiting Pakistan and India at the appropriate time,” Ms Psaki said. “But,” she said, “we do have a strong, ongoing dialogue with Pakistan regarding all aspects of our bilateral relationship and shared interests, including security and counterterrorism cooperation, and we’ll work together to address any of these concerns.”