Pakistan to raise drone attack issue with US: FM Hina
23 January, 2013
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Tuesday told the Senate that the issue of drone attacks would be taken up with US Ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, and also with Obama administration in Washington.
During a policy statement in the Senate, the foreign minister said drone attacks were a violation of Pakistan's territorial integrity, adding that the government was not oblivious to the challenges confronting the country. Khar's statement on US drones came in the wake of the Obama administration's finalising of a rule book for targeted killings which would not apply to Pakistan, enabling the CIA to freely conduct direct drone strikes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
Khar said all international organisations, including the UN, EU, and US think tanks also termed drone attacks as unlawful and counterproductive. Moreover, she said that Pakistan wanted cordial ties with all neighbouring states, including India, adding that Pakistan's foreign minister and army chief would not be issuing irresponsible statements as had been made by their Indian counterparts.
The Senate called the foreign minister on Monday when PML-N's Senator Zafar Ali Shah raise the issue of US legislation, allowing CIA to carry on drone attacks in Pakistan. He sought the foreign minister's point of view over this issue and that is why Khar gave the policy statement. The Senate also observed heated debate over devolution process (18th Amendment). On a point of order, Senator Raza Rabbani said creation of Ministry of Education and Training is totally against the 18th Amendment.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh governments have moved a summary and demanded the federal government cancel the creation of this ministry, arguing that education is now a devolved subject. Later, the issue was taken up in the meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) and it recommended the federal government remove the name of education, but regretted that the implementation was not honoured.
Raza Rabbani said Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab have expressed serious reservations over the use of word "education" and the CCI has also opposed it, but the decision was not implemented in letter and spirit. "I also wrote several letters to the prime minister regarding this issue but was not honoured," he maintained. The senator requested leader of the House to raise the issue with the prime minister and ensure implementation of the 18th Amendment.
Leader of Opposition in Senate, Ishaq Dar said the Punjab government had raised 12 issues in the CCI meeting, but the minister of inter-provincial coordination was interested in calling meetings and addressing these issues. ANP's Senator Ilyas Bilor told the House that provinces got autonomy (devolution) after years of efforts and no one would be allowed to reverse this.
He warned that strict action would be taken against those who try to reverse the devolution process. Leader of the House Jahangir Badar said the minister of inter-provincial coordination will explain the position on Wednesday.
He said that a senate committee is working over the hurdles in implementation of devolution process. Meanwhile, JUI-F's Senator Abdul Ghafoor Haidri condemned the imposition of governor's rule in Balochistan. He said injustices were carried out with Balochistan's elected assembly by the PPP government.