Khar to seek UK help against drone raids
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar left for the United Kingdom on Sunday on an official visit to hold wide-ranging talks with her British counterpart and other officials to persuade them to use their influence on the United States to end drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Ms Khar has undertaken the four-day visit two weeks after an interview given by Pakistan’s High Commissioner in London Wajid Shamsul Hassan to an English newspaper in which he urged Prime Minister David Cameron to condemn drone attacks and help stop them.
Mr Hassan had admitted that Islamabad’s relations with Washington were at their lowest ebb and described the drone attacks as ‘war crimes’ and ‘little more than state execution’.
“When we will begin talks, every issue will come under discussion. We will definitely express our reservations over it,” said Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit when asked if Ms Khar would seek the UK’s help in getting drone attacks stopped as had
been indicated by the high commissioner.
Mr Basit, who is part of the official delegation visiting the UK, told Dawn by telephone from London that the agenda of Ms Khar’s visit was to hold dialogue on ‘enhanced strategic’ relations with the UK and to enhance bilateral cooperation in economy, trade
The spokesman said the foreign minister had a very busy schedule in the UK. She will meet Foreign Secretary William Hague on Tuesday and she will address a gathering at the prestigious Oxford University on Monday and will have an interaction with a group of academics. The foreign minister, he said, would also meet members of the UK Parliamentary Group on Pakistan, All Parties Foreign Affairs Committee, members of parliament and some politicians of Pakistani origin.
The foreign minister will also have meetings with the UK National Security Adviser Nigel Kim Darroch and the trade minister besides a number of other officials.
During his visit to Davos last month, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had stated that US drone attacks were only fuelling insurgency in Pakistan.
He had said that Pakistan was against “illegal and counter-productive” drone strikes along the areas bordering Afghanistan and that Islamabad had already conveyed its concerns to the US in this regard.