Sharif says drones no answer to terrorism, seeks productive engagement from Europe

Nawaz SharifNawaz Sharif has been persistent in his belief that drones do not offer a solution to the terror situation in Pakistan. (Reuters image)

Pakistan is determined to root out terrorism and extremism but US drone strikes are not the answer as they are counterproductive, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Tuesday.

"You are fully aware of the counterproductive impact of the continuing drone strikes," he said while addressing a luncheon he hosted for ambassadors of European countries. "We are fully engaged in sensitising the international community about the impact of these attacks and persuading it to find ways and means to curb terrorism that are not counter-productive."

Sharif said his government is determined to rid Pakistan of terrorism and extremism, according to a statement issued by his office. The problem of terrorism is complex and rooted in the events of the past three decades, "having global, regional and local dimensions", he said.

"We believe that the best way to deal with these challenges is through national consensus, which we are generating through various forums including the All-Parties Conference and parliamentary resolutions," Sharif said.

The CIA-operated drone campaign, which has eliminated several top Taliban and Al Qaeda commanders, has emerged as a key irritant in Pakistan-US relations. Islamabad has opposed the use of the pilotless spy planes, saying they have killed innocent people.

Sharif said one of Pakistan's foremost foreign policy priorities is to have good neighbourly, friendly and cooperative relations "with all our neighbours including India, based on mutual respect and esteem".

Pakistan is also looking to deepen its cooperation with European partners in key areas like trade, investment, energy, infrastructure, education and human resource development.

European countries, as Pakistan's largest trade and investment partners, enjoy a unique position. Sharif said Pakistan is encouraged to see progress towards grant of "GSP+" status, which is going to be voted on by the European Parliament.

"I know this for a fact that our high hopes about Pakistan winning this status are very strongly founded on the supportive and cooperative role of the resident missions," he said.

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