LAHORE - US Ambassador in Pakistan Richard Olson on Thursday said there was no change in US policy on drone strikes inside Pakistan and elsewhere.

He said this while replying to a question by a student at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) in a question- answer session.

Olson preferred not to say much on the issue himself and rather preferred to quote the US President Barack Obama’s policy statement on drones at National Defence University, Washington DC in May 2013. 

The ambassador, however, said that there was no change in US policy on the drone strikes in Pakistan.  President Obama had stated in his May 23, 2013 speech at National Defence University, Washington that “it was war waged proportionally, in last resort, and in self-defence”. 

Answering another question, he said it was in the interest of both India and Pakistan to have friendly relations. He urged the two countries to enhance trade ties and resolve contentious issues through dialogue. He made it clear that the US could only encourage the two countries to improve relations in its capacity as observer and a well-wisher.

On the current political crisis in Pakistan, he said democratic institutions here were passing through a evolutionary phase. “A process of political reforms also started in the US after 1776 and it was still continuing. We continue to reform our institutions according to new requirements. Likewise, Pakistan also needs reforms to improve its political system,” he observed.

Answering a question, Olson said that US had no issues with Pakistan about its enhanced cooperation with China in various fields. If the two countries improve communication links, it would be good for the region, he added.

Olson recalled Pakistan’s role it played to bring the US and China closer together after the relations between the two deteriorated due to latter’s decision to go nuclear.

He supported implementation of TAPI gas pipeline project, saying, “Central Asia is energy-rich while South Asia is energy-poor”.  Asked why the US was opposed to Pakistan’s agreement with Iran to import gas from that country, the US envoy said it was not US versus Iran. “It is an international issue. The IAEA is holding negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme. Iran must address IAEA concerns about its nuclear ambitions,” he said, adding sanctions could only be applied on Iran if it violates IAEA parameters.

To a question about possible US intervention to lifting of YouTube ban in Pakistan, he said it was an issue between Pakistan government and the Google. He hoped the issue may be resolved in the upcoming meeting at Silicon Valley (US) between the Pakistani officials and the Google team.

Earlier, in his inaugural address, the US ambassador outlined the basis of Pak-US relations and mentioned the sectors in which the US was extending help to Pakistan.

He said the US companies will have greater opportunities to invest here if there is boom in Pakistan’s economy. He said his country welcomed COAS’s statement to eliminate terrorists from North Waziristan.

Meanwhile, the US ambassador inaugurated Network Operations Centre for providing advance information on loadshedding to the consumers at the WAPDA House. It would help overcome Pakistan’s continuing energy crisis by allowing more effective management of available electricity and reducing unscheduled loadshedding throughout the country.

This system has been installed in all ten government-owned power distribution companies.