By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - Senior U.S. and Pakistani commanders met Friday in an apparent bid to mend mounting friction between the two allies after last month’s drone strike which killed Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mansour.
Top U.S. and NATO troop commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, along with U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson, met Pakistan’s powerful military chief General Raheel Sharif at army headquarters.
The visit follows a statement from Pakistan’s foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz that “the time has come to review our relations with the U.S.” -- another hint that everything is not good between the two close allies.
Last month’s drone strike in southwestern Baluchistan province has been viewed by Pakistan as a massive blow to an already-fragile Afghan peace process.
Mullah Mansoor was killed in the remote Noshki district on May 21 after he reportedly entered Pakistan from Iran.
Expressing serious concern that the U.S. drone strike in Baluchistan was a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty, General Sharif claimed in a statement that the operation was counter-productive to his country’s efforts to eliminate terrorism.
The army chief urged that all “stakeholders” needed to understand Pakistan’s challenges with regard to the porous border with Afghanistan, inter-tribal linkages and the decades-old presence of over three million refugees.
“Blaming Pakistan for instability in Afghanistan is unfortunate”, the army chief was quoted as saying with reference to Kabul’s allegations regarding Islamabad’s alleged support for the Afghan Taliban.
General Sharif also raised his country’s longtime demand for targeting suspected sanctuaries of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, a collection of different insurgent groups in Pakistan, and its chief, Mullah Fazlullah, in Afghanistan.
“The army chief reiterated Pakistan’s resolve not to allow hostile intelligence agencies’ efforts, especially RAW [the Indian intelligence agency] and NDS [Afghan intelligence], of fomenting terrorism”, the army statement added.