Drone strike sparks Pak-US diplomatic spat

ISLAMABAD: A diplomatic row broke out between Islamabad and Washington on Thursday over the latest US drone strike in Kurram Agency with both sides publicly rejecting each other’s claims on the actual target.

Reports claimed that the drone targeted a commander from the Haqqani network and his two accomplices in the Kurram Agency. But Pakistan was quick to challenge the reports, insisting that the predator strike actually hit the Afghan refugee camp.

In an unusual move, the US embassy issued a statement, calling Pakistan’s assertion as ‘false’.

That prompted Pakistan to issue a second rebuttal in as many days but this time it came from the army, that gave more insight into the Wednesday’s drone strike.

“The drone strike on January 24in Spintal, Hangu district was on an individual target who had morphed into Afghan refugees and not any organised terrorists sanctuary which have been eliminated,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

Haqqani commander, two others killed in Kurram drone strike

The clarification from the military media wing, nevertheless, tacitly endorsed the US position that the target of drone strike was to eliminate certain militants.

The ISPR said the presence of militants in the refugee camp validated Pakistan’s stance that leftover terrorists easily morph into Afghan refugee camps and complexes.

“Thus their early and dignified return to Afghanistan is essential. Pakistan’s brotherly hospitality to peaceful Afghan refugees must not be exploited by the terrorists,” the statement added.

It also said out of total 54 Afghan refugees’ camps and complexes in Pakistan, 43 were in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa that overlap in Fata.

Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for decades but in recent years it has sought their early repatriation because of security concerns.

Last month, the government gave only one month’s extension to the stay of around 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees in a move linked to President Trump’s New Year tweet in which he slammed Pakistan for not doing enough in the fight against terrorism.

Separately, speaking at the weekly news briefing, Foreign Offices spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal strongly condemned the drone strike in Kurram Agency carried out by the Resolute Support Mission.

“Pakistan continues to emphasise to the US the importance of sharing actionable intelligence, so that appropriate action is taken against terrorists by our forces within our territory,” Faisal said.

US denies drone struck Afghan refugee camp in Kurram Agency

“Pakistan has also been stressing the need of early repatriation of Afghan refugees, as their presence in Pakistan helps Afghan terrorists to melt and morph among them,” he added.

“Such unilateral actions are detrimental to the spirit of cooperation between the two countries in the fight against terrorism,” the spokesperson cautioned.

The latest drone strike has deepened tensions between Pakistan and the United States. Relations between the two countries have already been at the lowest since Trump’s stinging New Year tweet.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson confirmed that the Monitoring Team (MT) of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) 1267 Sanctions Committee, dealing with the Taliban, al Qaeda, and Da’ish, was in Pakistan for a two-day visit. The last visit of the MT to Pakistan took place in January 2015.

“The visit of the MT to Islamabad is part of its regular visits to Member States to assess compliance of the UN Sanctions Regimes relating to the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1267,” Faisal told reporters.

The team also apprised the member states of current international and regional threat assessment from terrorism and suggests way in which the Member States can improve their implementation of sanctions measures, he added.

During the visit, he said, the MT was being briefed on implementation of 1267 obligations as well as shared our perspective on the terrorist threat in our region.

“The visit also gave us an opportunity to highlight our accomplishments in turning the tide against terrorism inside Pakistan and in support of global fight against terrorism,” the spokesperson maintained.

Source close to Haqqani group confirmed at least one mid-level Afghan commander killed

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    Original news : https://tribune.com.pk/story/1618046/1-drone-strike-sparks-pak-us-diplomatic-spat/