ISLAMABAD – Pakistan and the US Thursday expressed optimism about their future relationship just a day after Isaf commander Gen Allen met with Gen Kayani in Rawalpindi.
Washington said that Wednesday’s Allen-Kayani meeting was ‘very productive’. It said the visit was aimed at continuing the dialogue on all critical issues but clarified that no agreement on Nato supply had been signed yet.
Declaring restoration of Nato supply in Islamabad’s interest, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani said it was must for foreign troops’ pullout from Afghanistan. He also said that positive development had been achieved in talks with the United States over Salala attack apology.
After attending Public Accounts Committee meeting at the Parliament House, Jilani told reporters that foreign forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan would also bring stability in that country as well as the region. He said Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan were also improving and Pakistan wished to contribute in the stability of Afghanistan.
Jilani however said Pakistan had serious concerns over terrorists’ havens inside Afghanistan along the border and had taken up the issue of cross-border attacks on Pakistani security personnel with Afghan officials. “Hopefully, Afghan officials will take necessary measures to check militants’ attacks on Pakistani security posts.” Talking to reporters in an off-camera gaggle, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said that Isaf commander visit to Pakistan was aimed at continuing dialogue with Pakistan on all critical issues. Gen Allen had visited Islamabad Wednesday to discuss military-to-military cooperation and the issues creating friction between them over the last few months.
“This is an effort to continue the dialogue we had with Pakistan on a range of issues affecting the US Pakistani relationship,” he said. Little, however, reiterated that no agreement had been reached yet on the ground supply routes from Pakistan.
“Without getting into specifics of our discussion with Pakistan, I think there is reason for optimism here. We are reaching a point in our relationship with Pakistan that suggests that things are settling down a bit,” he remarked.
George Little was quick to point out though that some of the issues were still unresolved. “I am not saying that all the issues are behind us, some of the issues are out there, but important thing is we continue to talk with Pakistan on ground supply routes and a range of other issues related to the bilateral defence relationship,” he said.
Expressing hope for a positive outcome, he said Pakistan and US were moving towards a more routine system of dialogue. “I think, the basis for some kind of an agreement on the GLOCs is there and is real and we hope that we reach a resolution on it. It has been over seven months, and we obviously want to get through this issue and be able to use ground supply routes in Afghanistan,” he pointed out.
He vehemently denied reports that Gen Allen’s visit to Islamabad was a ‘last ditch effort’ to resolve ties with Pakistan. “We are not viewing our ongoing discussions with the Pakistanis as last ditch efforts. We are committed to continuing discussions with Pakistan not only on supply routes but on a broad range of issues,” he argued.
Responding to another question regarding attack by TTP militants in Dir that killed 13 Pakistani soldiers, he regretted the incident. “We deplore any attack on our Pakistani partners. The TTP poses a threat to both Pakistan and to the United States,” he said.
“We take aggressive action against terrorists on the Afghan side of the border. We will continue to do so. Whether it is the Haqqani network or the TTP, whether it is al-Qaeda, we will take decisive action on the Afghan side of the border,” he assured.
“It is important for the United States and Pakistan to work closely with each other on the issue of insurgents that cross the border and that is what we have called for in recent weeks with respect to safe havens in Pakistan,” Little recalled.
“We look forward to continuing our dialogue with the government of Pakistan on these very important issues as this is a common cause. These terrorists are threat both to the United States, its allies and Pakistan,” the Press Secretary maintained.
Jilani, who would be leaving for New Delhi for Foreign Secretaries’ level talks on cross-LoC (Line of Control) firing incidents, security and other outstanding issues with India on July 3, expressed concern over mounting number of cross-LoC firing into Pakistan.
The foreign secretary said he will take up this issue along with other matters pertaining to regional security and outstanding disputes with India at the talks. He said that visit of Indian external affairs minister to Pakistan was scheduled on July 18; however, it had been postponed due to internal political developments of India.
He apprise media men that Pakistani High Commissions in Australia and Indonesia had been directed for playing proactive role in gathering data about Pakistani nationals, who had fallen prey to ship accident in Australia.
He also told that Prime Minister Pervaiz Ashraf was briefed at Foreign Office about Pakistan’s relations with regional and other countries as well as Pakistani foreign policy, and the PM expressed his satisfaction over FO’s performance.
To a question on postponed visit of President Zardari to Moscow, Jilani said that the visit was specific to a conference, but hopefully, Russian President Vladimir Putin would come to Pakistan to attend the four nation summit to be held in September. The four countries are Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Russia, he added.
He also observed that Pakistani delegation in Brazil conference took an active part despite dysfunction of Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim due to judgment of the Supreme Court.