US drone strikes will derail potential Taliban peace deal, says Sharif

"The more the drones, the more the terrorists get multiplied. You kill one man, his sons, his father, his brothers, they become terrorists. So this is something that is not helping at all," Sharif said Thursday. 

Taliban leaders have refused to engage in serious peace talks with Pakistan and Afghanistan until the drone program is shut down. 

"We consider them [drones] as something that has the ability to break the talks, which must be avoided at all costs," the Pakistani leader said. 

Efforts to get Taliban leaders to the negotiating table have gained momentum in recent weeks. 

Earlier this month, Senate Armed Services Committee Chief Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinHow House Republicans scrambled the Russia probe Congress dangerously wields its oversight power in Russia probe The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate MORE noted that Islamabad was taking a more proactive role in the peace process. 

"I gather Pakistan is being more cooperative" in the ongoing peace negotiations being led by the Afghan government, Levin (D-Mich.) told reporters during a Sept. 11 breakfast in Washington. 

Pakistani officials released Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Afghan Taliban's No. 2 commander, on Saturday in a bid to jump start talks with the terror group. 

Baradar has been in military custody since his capture in Pakistan in 2010.

The move came weeks after a goodwill trip by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to Pakistan in August ended with both countries agreeing to pursue a viable Taliban peace deal. 

The White House and Pentagon have said a Taliban peace plan with the Taliban is critical to Afghan stability, ahead of the 2014 withdrawal deadline for all U.S. and coalition forces from the country. 

However, administration officials have been equally as adamant on the importance of maintaining the U.S. armed drone program. 

The Obama administration was forced into damage control last month, as the White House pushed back against Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryShould President Trump, like President Obama, forsake human rights in pursuit of the deal with a tyrant? GOP Senate report says Obama officials gave Iran access to US financial system Democrats conflicted over how hard to hit Trump on Iran MORE's pledge to end armed drone operations in Pakistan.

During a diplomatic visit to Islamabad in August, Kerry told Sharif that Washington plans to severely curtail and eventually end armed drone operations in the country. 

The White House reacted quickly to Kerry's comments, saying his statements did not reflect a coming change in the use of armed drones against terrorist targets or overall U.S. counterterrorism policy. 

"Clearly the goal of counter-terrorism operations, broadly speaking, is to get to a place where we don't have to use them, because the threat goes away," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said at the time. 

However, President Obama is "realistic about the fact that there is a threat that remains and that we have to keep up our vigilance to fight in this and other places around the world," she added.