Drone strikes in Pakistan could continue under US-Afghan agreementhttp://thehill.com/blogs/
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker acknowledged Wednesday that the new strategic partnership agreement signed by the United States and Afghanistan does not lead to an end to drone strikes in countries like Pakistan.
The 10-page agreement signed by President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday says that the United States “pledges not to use Afghan territory or facilities as a launching point for attacks against other countries.”
But Crocker said Wednesday that the language does not prevent the U.S. military from acting in self-defense — which means that drone strikes in Pakistan could continue.
“There is nothing in this agreement that precludes the right of self-defense for either party and if there are attacks from the territory of any state aimed at us we have the inherent right of self-defense and will employ it," Crocker said at a press briefing on the deal, according to AFP, when he was asked about drone strikes against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan.
The U.S. has increasingly turned to drone attacks in Pakistan and elsewhere, including Yemen, to target al Qaeda and Taliban targets, and the strikes are one of the larger points of tension between Washington and Islamabad.
President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser John Brennan defended drone strikes in a speech on Monday, in one of the first public acknowledgments by the White House that the tactic is used.
"This is defensive in nature, not offensive, doesn't threaten any one, but I hope the region takes notice," Crocker said Wednesday, according to AFP.
The strategic partnership agreement would allow for a U.S. presence in Afghanistan through 2024, but Pakistan’s reaction is one of the central question marks about the agreement.
A semiannual Pentagon report, released Monday, said that Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan remains porous, and Taliban forces continue to move across it too easily, staging attacks in Afghanistan before retreating back to Pakistan.
“Pakistan is still assumed as a risk" to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Pentagon officials said in a briefing Monday.