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Nawaz Sharif urges Obama to end drone strikes

world Updated: Oct 24, 2013 09:39 IST
Yashwant Raj
Nawaz Sharif

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday urged US President Barack Obama to end drone strikes in Pakistan that have strained ties between the two countries in the recent years.

“I also brought up the issue of drones in our meeting, emphasising the need for an end to such strikes," Sharif said in a joint press appearance with Obama in the Oval Office.

In his remarks, Obama said the two leaders in their discussion on security issues agreed to find “ways that would respect Pakistan’s sovereignty (and) the concerns of both countries”.

The two leaders met for two hours, ending a chill in relations between the two countries that set in with slain al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden found hiding in Pakistan in 2011.

Relations deteriorated after that with polls showing that only 10 Americans trusted Pakistan, while the US replaced India as the foremost enemy in Pakistani public perception.

Drones played a large role in it.

Strikes by US drones inside Pakistan have been the cause of much tension between the two countries and was an emotive issue in the recently concluded general election.

While Pakistan tends to see it as a breach of sovereignty, which it is, Amnesty International has reported remarkably high civilian casualties in these strikes.

Sharif was expected to raise them during this visit but the US, which has defended itself while tightening the procedures, was also expected to not concede any ground here.

They also discussed an entire range of issues, including Pakistan’s ties with India. Obama remarked on the progress, referring to recent meetings.

Sharif said he was committed to finding a peaceful solution to all issues, including Kashmir.

Pakistani leaders have often raised the Kashmir issue in the US, hoping to get Washington involved.

They, however, haven’t had any success yet.

While the joint statement issued after their meeting mentions India-Pakistan peace efforts, there is no mention of Kashmir.