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Embassy Row: ‘Perpetual war’
Pakistan complained this week to U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson about reports that President Obama plans to increase drone strikes against terrorist targets, which the foreign minister condemned as "counterproductive" and other lawmakers denounced as a violation of national sovereignty.
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar met Tuesday with Mr. Olson in Islamabad after addressing the Pakistan parliament, where she criticized the U.S. drone strikes.
"They are proving counterproductive in the war on terrorism," she told her fellow lawmakers in the Pakistani Senate.
Sen. Mushahid Hussain, chairman of the Senate Defense Committee, cited news reports that Mr. Obama plans to increase the use of the unmanned aerial strikes, which have killed hundreds of suspected terrorists and an unknown number of civilians.
If he ordered an expansion of the drone attacks, Mr. Obama would be contradicting remarks in his inaugural address in which he promised an end to "perpetual war," Mr. Hussain warned.
"But what he is prescribing for Pakistan is something close to 'perpetual war' by drones, which will also be counterproductive, a violation of Pakistani sovereignty and also promote anti-Americanism among the people of Pakistan," he said.
In her meeting with Mr. Olson, the foreign minister complained about the ongoing drone attacks along Pakistan's tribal area that borders Afghanistan, a Foreign Ministry official told Pakistan's Express Tribune newspaper.
Officially, the Foreign Ministry said only that Ms. Khar and Mr. Olson "discussed the overall bilateral relationship and both expressed satisfaction on the positive trajectory in Pakistan-U.S. ties."
Statistics on the U.S. drone war vary widely, with some independent groups estimating that the U.S. military has launched nearly 350 strikes since 2004 and killed more than 3,000 people.
U.S. officials say the vast majority of the strikes have killed hard-core terrorists from the Taliban and al Qaeda, and they have downplayed the number of civilian deaths.
A top U.S. diplomat this week called on the U.N. Security Council to make sweeping reforms of U.N. peacekeeping operations and "swiftly" investigate all complaints of sexual abuse by multinational forces dispatched to trouble spots around the world.
"We would like to see the entire mission leadership taking action to ensure adherence to the zero-tolerance policy for misconduct. This includes swiftly investigating allegations of sexual exploitation or abuse and repatriating offending units," Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis said.
U.N. peacekeepers have been accused of raping women and children and soliciting prostitutes in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, the Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sudan.
The peacekeeping operation "must continue to evolve to remain relevant," said Mr. DeLaurentis, an alternate representative at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York.
He called for peacekeeping forces with a "diverse mix" of troops and police, especially from countries close to a target conflict zone.
Mr. DeLaurentis added that the U.N. should emphasize "quality over quantity" in peacekeeping operations.
"Ten world-class experts arriving at the outset of a mission are far better than 100 mediocre generalists trickling in over time," he said.
Mr. DeLaurentis also called for better training and higher standards for peacekeepers.
The U.N. currently is involved in 17 peacekeeping operations.
• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email email@example.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
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About the Author
James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...
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