Stop taking Pakistan for granted, US told


ISLAMABAD – In a strong message to Washington to protest a deadly drone strike that killed 44 Pakistanis on Thursday, Islamabad refused on Friday to attend the trilateral meeting of Pakistani, Afghan and American officials schedule for March 26 in Brussels, saying that Pakistan should not be treated as a client state, nor be taken for granted.
“In pursuance of the directives of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, US Ambassador Cameron Munter was summoned to the Foreign Office by Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and a strong protest was made regarding Thursday’s drone attacks that caused many casualties,” Foreign Office Spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua said in a statement.
Ambassador Munter was also told that under the circumstances, Pakistan would not be able to participate in the trilateral meeting between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US, she said. The US had proposed the trilateral meeting to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, she added. Foreign Affairs Minister Hina Rabbani Khar was initially expected to participate in the meeting.
“It was evident that the fundamentals of our relations need to be revisited,” Janjua said. Dropping a clear hint about Pakistan’s displeasure with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)’s activities on its soil, ranging from the presence of American spies in the country to the repeated drone strikes in Pakistani tribal regions, Janjua said it was for the White House and the State Department to hold back those who were trying to veer the Pakistan-US relationship off course.
She added that Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani had also been asked to make a strong protest to the State Department. The death toll in Thursday’s drone attack was one of the highest in a predator drone strike and came just one day after the release of Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor who was arrested earlier in January for killing two Pakistanis.
Ambassador Munter was categorically told that such strikes were not only “unacceptable” but also constituted “a flagrant violation of humanitarian norms and law”, said Janjua. Ambassador Munter said that he understood clearly that the message was not a pro forma demarche (formality) and he would rush to Washington to convey Pakistan’s message to the highest levels of the US administration.