Khar challenges US claim of Zawahiri’s presence in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Monday said that Pakistan had “no information about the presence of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Pakistan.”
“If anybody has any information in this regard, they should share it with Pakistan,” said the foreign minister during a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) here today.
Khar’s statement comes immediately after comments made earlier today by the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is currently on a three-day visit to neighbouring India.
“There are several significant leaders still on the run. Zawahiri, who inherited the leadership from bin Laden is somewhere, we believe, in Pakistan,” Clinton told a town-hall meeting in the Indian city of Kolkata.
During Monday’s meeting of the PCNS, Foreign Minister Khar reiterated the stance that US drone attacks were “counter-productive” and a “violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty”.
“The US has been informed of Pakistan’s concerns on drone strikes,” she added.
The foreign minister said that talks were underway on the future of Pakistan’s relationship with the United States in light of the parliamentary recommendations.
In an interview to an American television channel on Saturday, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta had said that drone strikes will continue on targets inside Pakistan, rejecting the stance that the attacks were a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
“The United States is going to defend itself under any circumstances,” Panetta had said.
The US has launched two drone strikes in Fata in the last six days. The latest, on Saturday, killed at least 10 people in the tribal North Waziristan agency.