`Drone strikes to end after Sharif’s visit to US`
Islamabad: Pakistan today said it hoped that the controversial drone strikes in its tribal areas will end after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif`s "successful" visit to the US.
Sharif concluded a four-day official visit to Washington on Wednesday. He repeatedly raised the issue of missile attacks by CIA-operated drones during his meetings with President Barack Obama and several senior officials.
"On drone strikes, our position has been voiced in clear terms. We do hope that the drone strikes will end," Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry said at a weekly news briefing.
Sharif`s visit was "highly successful" and helped improve ties which were fractured. "The primary achievement of the visit is that a new beginning has been made by the elected leadership of Pakistan to build a relationship with the US based on mutuality of interest," he said.
Chaudhry ruled out the possibility of taking the drone issue to the International Criminal Court and outlined the strategy pursued by the Pakistani leadership to handle the matter.
"It is two-pronged. We are raising it with the US bilaterally in clear terms and at every level and we have also raised it in the international fora like the UN General Assembly," he said.
Sharif talked about the issue while addressing the world body last month.
Despite reports that Pakistan`s leadership had initially worked with the US on the drone strikes, Sharif`s government has called for an end to the attacks, describing them as counter-productive and a violation of the country`s sovereignty.
Chaudhry further said Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi, who allegedly helped the US track Osama bin Laden, was being tried by Pakistani courts that will decide his future.
The US also raised the issue of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline but the project should be seen in the context of Pakistan`s energy shortage, he said.
"All options are on the table and the government is pursuing the project. The view point of the US is known to you. I don’t have to repeat, you can ask them directly," he said.
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