Islamabad: In what may further deepen the divide between Islamabad and Washington, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has clarified that his government would neither allow America to expand drone attacks nor permit ‘hot pursuit’ of extremists by foreign troops inside Pakistan’s territory.
Addressing a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Qureshi categorically told the Obama administration that there are ‘red lines’ which must not be crossed, adding that the drone strikes were proving “counter-productive and unhelpful” in the war against extremism.
This is probably for the first that Qureshi has denounced President Obama’s revamped AFPAK policy and pointed out that the policy would have grave implications for Pakistan’s national security.
“There are serious implications of the new US Afghanistan Strategy for Pakistan,” The Dawn quoted Qureshi, as saying in an official statement released after the meeting.
During the meeting, legislators expressed the fear that the proposed troop surge in Afghanistan would particularly hit the already restive Balochistan.
“As a result of the military surge, there could be more violence in Afghanistan which could, in turn, result in further influx of militants and refugees from Afghanistan into Pakistan,” the statement said.
In the recent past, the White House has been increasing pressure on Islamabad to ‘do more’ against the extremist groups operating from the terror hot beds situated in the law less tribal regions.
The Obama administration has been particularly pressing Pakistan to take on the North Waziristan-based Haqqani network, and dismantle Taliban ‘sanctuaries’ in Balochistan.
Various top US officials have visited Pakistan in the recent past, and diplomatic sources said that the Pakistani leadership has been warned that if it fails to act, the US would then be forced to take on the militants directly, which includes expansion of drone attacks in Balochistan.