US-Pak square off while discussing ‘troubled ties’

US officials squared off with Rehman during discussion over the country`s relationship with the Washington, drone strikes and treatment of Afridi.

Last Updated: Jul 28, 2012, 14:41 PM IST

Washington: Two officials representing the Obama administration’s policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan squared off with Islamabad’s envoy during discussion over the country`s troubled relationship with the Washington, drone strikes and treatment of Dr Shakil Afridi, who had helped the CIA in locating Osama bin Laden.

Lt Gen Karl Eikenberry (Ret), who served as US ambassador to Afghanistan from 2009 to 2011 slammed Pakistan’s decision to sentence Dr Afridi to 33 years in prison.

“In a word, I`d call it outrageous,” Politico quoted Gen Eikenberry, as saying.

Pakistan`s ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman, however, insisted that Afridi`s conviction demonstrated that rule of law in Pakistan is alive and well.

According to the report, Rehman also said that Pakistan shouldn`t receive any more criticism for militants in its difficult-to-govern areas than Afghanistan does for similar hideouts on its territory.

The statement that drew a quick and sharp retort from Lt Gen Doug Lute (Ret), a White House aide.

“There’s no comparison of the Pakistani Taliban`s relatively recent, small-in-scale presence inside Afghanistan to the decades-long experience and relations between elements of the Pakistani government and the Afghan Taliban. So to compare these is simply, I think, unfair,” the report quoted him, as saying.

According to the report, after Lute parried a question about still-classified drone strikes in Pakistan by referring generically to US-Pakistan "cooperation," Rehman said it is time for that sort of ‘robotic warfare’ to end.

“The drone strikes now see diminishing returns. We will be seeking an end to drone strikes and there will be no compromise on that,” Rehman said.