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Drone strikes in Pakistan are detrimental to Pak-US relations: Gen Sharif

RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has conveyed serious concerns to United States ambassador over drone strike in Balochistan that allegedly killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, calling them against Pakistan’s integrity and sovereignty.

During a meeting with US ambassador David Hales who visited the General Headquarters today, Gen Sharif told the US envoy that such air strikes could affect Pak-US relations.

The drone strike targeting Mullah Akhtar Mansour on Saturday was perhaps the most high-profile U.S. incursion into Pakistan since the 2011 raid to kill al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and sparked a protest by Islamabad that its sovereignty had been violated.

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“While expressing his serious concerns over the said drone strike, COAS said such acts of sovereignty violations are detrimental to relations between both countries and are counter-productive for ongoing peace process for regional stability,” reads the ISPR statement.

He highlighted that Pakistan’s sacrifices and successes in the war on terror were unparalleled.

US President Barack Obama had confirmed Mansour’s death while on a three-day visit to Vietnam, calling it “an important milestone.”

“The Taliban should seize the opportunity to pursue the only real path for ending this long conflict – joining the Afghan government in a reconciliation process that leads to lasting peace and stability,” Obama said.

He stressed that the operation against Mansour was not a shift in U.S. strategy in Afghanistan or a return to active engagement in fighting, following the end of the international coalition’s main combat mission in 2014.

The U.S. now has 9,800 troops in Afghanistan, and a decision is expected later this year on whether to stick with a timetable that would see their numbers cut to 5,500 by the start of 2017.

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