Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel threatened Pakistani heads of state on Monday with cutting off up to $1.6 billion in aid if the country’s mass protests against U.S. drone strikes continue, Pentagon officials said, according to The New York Times. The warning came after nonviolent blockades in protest of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan forced the United States to halt ground transport of NATO military supplies from Afghanistan via Pakistan last week, as Common Dreams previously reported. A statement from Pakistan’s foreign ministry reported by Reuters says Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif "conveyed Pakistan’s deep concern over continuing U.S. drone strikes, stressing that drone strikes were counterproductive to our efforts to combat terrorism and extremism on an enduring basis." Yet Pentagon officials said Sharif gave his assurances that he would end the blockade and ensure safe passage of military equipment, The New York Times reports. The Express Tribune reports that last week Sharif ordered police to devise a strategy for shutting down the protests if the opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) refuses to disband them. PTI and coalition forces have vowed to continue the protests until the U.S. drone strikes end in Pakistan.
Sent by gReader Pro