Lahore, Apr 5: US drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas are counter-productive as they violate the country's sovereignty and result in civilian casualties causing deep resentment and fuel militancy, President Asif Ali Zardari said on Apr 4.
Zardari made the remarks during a meeting with visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides, who arrived in Pakistan this morning for talks aimed at resetting the relationship between the two countries.
Earlier in the day, Nides met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who insisted that new rules of engagement with the US must respect Pakistan's sovereignty.
The Pakistan-US relationship should be based on transparency, mutual respect and mutual interest in order for it to be "long term and sustained", Zardari said during his meeting with Nides at the Governor House in Lahore.
The President is currently on an official visit to Punjab province. Pakistan attaches great importance to its relationship with the US and the two countries "have mutuality of interests to pursue", Zardari said. The government is now awaiting the completion of a parliamentary review to reset the ties with the US, he added.
The government ordered the review after a cross-border NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November last year. Nides said the US recognizes Pakistan's role in the fight against militants and wants to restore multifaceted cooperation and relations. Rebuilding trust and confidence between the two countries is essential for pursuing common objectives, Nides said.
The US respects the parliamentary review process in Pakistan and looks forward to its early completion, he said. Referring to the situation in Afghanistan, Zardari said narco-trafficking and narco-financing were among the major challenges that need to be tackled urgently.