Hagel warns Pakistan leaders over border protests

2013-12-09 21:44
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. (Paul J Richards, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Riyadh - Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Pakistani leaders on Monday that if they don't resolve protests stalling some military shipments across the border with Afghanistan, it could be difficult to maintain political support in Washington for an aid programme that has sent billions of dollars to Islamabad, defence officials said.

In response, the officials said, Hagel received assurances from the Pakistanis that they would take "immediate action" to resolve the shipment problem. The officials did not provide details on how that might be done.

Just last week, anti-American protests along one of the primary border crossing routes in Pakistan prompted the US to stop the shipments from Torkham Gate through Karachi last week, due to worries about the safety of the truckers.

The protests centre on the CIA's drone programme that has targeted and killed many terrorists, but has caused civilian casualties.

The defence officials said Hagel described a political reality on Capitol Hill that could complicate support for the billions of dollars of aid Pakistan now receives.

It was Hagel's intent to try and pre-empt any problems with the aid, said the officials who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to discuss the private meetings publicly on the record.

Sputtering relationship

Hagel had back-to-back meetings on Monday with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the new army chief, General Raheel Sharif, in a move to further repair what has been a strained and sputtering relationship between Washington and Islamabad.

Defence officials said Hagel is the first high ranking US official to meet with the Army chief, who took over at the end of last month.

After leaving Islamabad, he flew to Saudi Arabia where he is meeting with Crown Prince Salman.

During the Pakistan meetings some of the more contentious issues also were raised, including Islamabad's opposition to ongoing CIA drone strikes and Washington's frustration with Pakistan's reluctance to go after the Haqqani terrorist network, which operates along the border and conducts attacks on US and coalition troops in Afghanistan.

The officials acknowledged that little progress was made other than to agree to continue talking.

Sharif's office said in a statement the prime minister and Hagel had "in-depth exchanges on a whole range of issues of mutual interest" including bilateral defence, security cooperation and Afghanistan.

Drone strikes

Sharif's office also said the prime minister conveyed Pakistan's deep concern over continuing US drone strikes, "stressing that drone strikes were counter-productive to our efforts to combat terrorism and extremism on an enduring basis", the statement said.

Shireen Mazari, the information secretary for the political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, said in a statement on Monday that it's time for the government to speak forcefully to the US to demand an end to the drone attacks. The party is leading the protests.

Pakistan has called the drone strikes a violation of the country's sovereignty, but the issue is muddied by the fact that Islamabad and the military have supported at least some of the strikes in the past.

Following their meeting in Rawalpindi, Hagel and Sharif echoed each other's desire to work to strengthen the countries' ties. The top military men discussed the defence relationship between the two countries and regional stability, according to the Pakistani army chief's office.

Hagel's warning to the Pakistanis about the supply route reflects what has been a growing frustration among US lawmakers with Pakistan in recent years.

The Pakistani government blocked the supply crossings for seven months following US airstrikes that accidentally killed two dozen soldiers on the Afghan border in November 2011. Pakistan finally reopened the routes after the US apologised.

The rift largely led the US to sever most aid to Pakistan for some time, but relations were restored in July 2012. Since then the US has delivered over $1.15bn in security assistance to Pakistan.

Some of the items include advanced communications equipment, roadside bomb jammers, night vision goggles and surveillance aircraft.

Since July 2012, relations between Washington and Islamabad have been improving. Sharif met with President Barack Obama and Hagel in late October in Washington.

The last Pentagon chief to visit Pakistan was Robert Gates in January 2010.

Hagel flew to Pakistan from Afghanistan, where he visited US troops but declined to meet with President Hamid Karzai, who has rankled the US by refusing to sign a security agreement before year's end.

- AP

Read more on:    pakistan  |  us
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Shilowa supports Vote No campaign

Former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa has come out in support of the Vote No! Campaign launched recently by former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils and former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, says a report.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router The B683 wireless gateway (hereinafter...

From R1671.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.