US drone attacks violate Pakistan`s sovereignty: PM Sharif
Islamabad: The US drone campaign violates the sovereignty of Pakistan, which will not allow its national security policies to be determined by foreign powers, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Monday.
In his first public remarks after the killing of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone attack on Friday, Sharif said the days when security policies were decided through "telephone calls from abroad" are over.
Without referring to the killing of the Taliban chief, Sharif said US drone strikes violate Pakistan`s sovereignty and international laws and are counter-productive to efforts to bring peace and stability to the country and the region.
"Gone are the days when our national security policies were determined through telephone calls from abroad. We now have a democratically elected government, chosen by the people of Pakistan," he said in his address at a field exercise by the army in Punjab province.
"Pakistan is faced with serious challenges both within the country and at international level. But there is hope, a hope to rise through and meet these challenges," he told a gathering that included top military officers and army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has blamed the US for deliberately sabotaging proposed peace talks with the Taliban by killing Mehsud. The government had begun contacts with the militants and a team of representatives was scheduled to meet the Taliban just before Mehsud was killed.
Sharif said his government is determined to end bloodshed and violence "but it cannot be done over-night, nor can it be done by unleashing senseless force against our citizens, without first making every effort to bring the misguided and confused elements of society back to the mainstream".
The government has to ensure that political parties, the military and civil society are on the same page to create an environment necessary to tackle this problem, he said.
"It was to this end that in an extraordinary expression of national unity and cohesion, the All-Parties Conference underlined the imperative need of giving peace a chance," Sharif said.
"We are located at the crossroads of competing and converging interests," he said. Unity among all stakeholders, including political parties, military, executive, judiciary, parliament and the media, is required in these difficult times, he added.
Sharif said it was his government that took the decision to make Pakistan a nuclear power. It also manufactured the JF-17 Thunder aircraft, Al-Khalid and Al-Zarar tanks and more national security systems.
"Pakistan`s military strategy is based on credible minimum deterrence. Highest state of preparedness encompassing optimised set of military capabilities remains its cornerstone," Sharif said.
Economic development, he said, is closely linked to peace and security and a stable economic environment facilitates growth and development. "In my recent visits abroad, I made it very clear that we do not want financial aid. Pakistan intends to maintain foreign relations on the basis of bilateralism while at the same time safeguarding our political, economic and national sovereignty," he said.
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