Pakistan, US agree on revisiting all tracks of their engagement

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and USA on Monday agreed that all tracks of US-Pakistan engagement need to be revisited with a view to creating a clear understanding on ways and means to carry forward their cooperation, in a mutually beneficial manner.  Pakistani leadership made clear to Senator John Kerry that Pakistan’s sovereignty and national interests must be respected and accommodated by the United States. Senator John Kerry accompanied by US Ambassador in Islamabad Cameraon Munter held a meeting in the Presidency with President Asif Ali Zardari. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani were also present in the meeting.Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar said that the meeting lasted for over two hours. Pak -US bilateral relations with focus on the situation arising out of the May 2 Abbottabad operation was discussed during the meeting, he said.

At the end of the meeting the following joint statement was issued simultaneously by the US Embassy in Islamabad and the Presidency, he said.It was agreed that both US and Pakistan must recognize and respect each others national interests, particularly in countering terrorism and in working together for promoting reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan.It was also agreed that the two countries will work together in any future actions against high value targets in Pakistan.  The President, Prime Minister and the Chief of the Army Staff have had a constructive exchange of views with Senator John Kerry.The situation arising from the Abbottabad Operation and the death of Osama Bin Laden was discussed at length. Senator Kerry conveyed that the secrecy surrounding the operation was strictly for reasons of operational security and not of mistrust of Pakistani Leadership.He said even in the US Government very few persons knew about it. Senator John Kerry said that it was important to press the “reset button” in US-Pakistan relations and use this opportunity to put the relations back on track and work jointly to bring about the most effective cooperation to combat terrorism, which is in both countries’s interest.

The Pakistani leadership conveyed to Senator Kerry that Pakistan was a victim of terrorism and that the whole nation was united in eliminating this curse from its soil. Osama Bin Laden was an enemy of Pakistan and the Al-Qaida had declared war against Pakistan and launched wave after wave of suicide attacks against its people.Pakistan was now being hit by a spate of terrorist attacks which were blow back from the elimination of Osama Bin Laden.  Pakistan-US relations should go forward on the basis of mutual respect, mutual trust and mutual interest.Pakistan’s leadership welcomed the clear affirmation by Senator Kerry that US policy has no designs against Pakistan’s nuclear and strategic assets. Senator Kerry stated that he was prepared to personally affirm such a guarantee.In furtherance of its existing commitment to fight terrorism, Pakistan agreed to take several immediate steps to underscore its seriousness in renewing the full cooperative effort with the United States.Senator Kerry noted that senior US officials will visit Pakistan soon to have further discussions on the way forward and to complete preparatory work for Secretary of State Clinton’s visit to Pakistan in the near future.It was agreed that the two sides would intensify their engagement through official channels and that negative media messages were misplaced and detrimental to the core national interests of both US and Pakistan. – APP