Pakistan's government has denied complicity with the United States' controversial use of drones to target jihadist camps on Pakistani soil, the local press reported Friday.
"Whatever understandings there may or may not have been in the past, the present government has been very clear regarding its policy on the issue," the Pakistani English-language newspaper Dawn cited Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesman, Aizaz Chaudry, as saying Thursday.
The issue was back in the headlines in the South Asian nation after Wednesday's meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and a U.S. newspaper report indicating Pakistani support for drone strikes against militants.
Citing what it said were top-secret CIA documents and Pakistani diplomatic memos from the period 2007-2011, the Washington Post reported Thursday that Islamabad not only accepted the program, but even suggested targets.
The Post pointed to a 2010 document referring to a "network of locations associated with a joint CIA-ISI (Pakistani military intelligence) targeting effort."
The publication of the story came a day after Sharif renewed his criticism of drones during a visit to Washington.
"I ... brought up the issue of drones in our meeting, emphasizing the need for an end to such strikes," Sharif told reporters after talks at the White House with Obama.
This week, London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International released a report denouncing the deaths of Pakistani civilians in the drone strikes and saying the United States "must be held to account" for those killings.
AI reviewed all 45 known drone strikes that took place in North Waziristan in northwestern Pakistan between January 2012 and August 2013, documenting one in October 2012 that killed a 68-year-old woman and another three months earlier that killed 18 laborers, including a 14-year-old boy.
Some of the U.S. drone strikes could be seen as war crimes, the rights group said.
The Post's article, which focused on the period after Obama took office in 2009, when the strikes intensified, said that Pakistan's then-ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, was regularly briefed by the CIA on the drone program.
But the former diplomat denied that those contacts amounted to collusion.
"The U.S. government simply conveyed to the Pakistan government what it said were its assessment of damage from drone strikes in Pakistan. The U.S. government insisted that the figure of civilian casualties reported in the Pakistan media were exaggerated and often fabricated," Dawn quoted Haqqani as saying. EFE