Secretary of State John Kerry told Pakistan Television yesterday that President Obama has “a very real timeline” for eliminating drone strikes in the Asian country, and that he hoped they would cease “very, very soon.”
He also said that “the program will end as we have eliminated most of the threat and continue to eliminate it.”
Kerry spoke in a television interview after meeting with Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Kerry said the two had agreed to re-establish a “full partnership.” In mid-June, Sharif, who had been sworn into office for less than a week, revoked his government’s secret approval of the drone strikes.
“The policy of protesting against drone strikes for public consumption, while working behind the scenes to make them happen, is not on,” Sharif said in a statement issued after his first Cabinet meeting last month.
It was unclear whether Sharif had asked Kerry to stop the attacks during their face-to-face talks. However, during a joint press conference with Kerry, Pakistani foreign-affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz said he had shared his country’s concerns about the policy with the secretary of state and that Pakistan considered the strikes a violation of its sovereignty.
Notably, Kerry did not promise an end to the use of drone strikes as a general policy. The United States has lowered the number of drone strikes in Pakistan over the last two years (from 73 strikes two years ago to only 17 this year, according to the New America Foundation).