Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ties with U.S. on course: Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: Amid reports suggesting that the U.S. has put bilateral meetings with Pakistan on hold till Islamabad releases its “diplomat” arrested for gunning down two Pakistanis in “self-defence', the spokespersons for both countries maintained that the relationship was on course.

While there were strong indications that contact between the U.S. State Department and the Pakistan embassy in Washington had been snapped and upcoming bilateral engagements were in peril, the official line from both countries sought to contradict this. Maintaining that “we continue to have contacts with the Pakistanis'', U. S. embassy spokesperson flagged Monday's meeting of Ambassador Cameron Munter with President Asif Ali Zardari as a case in point. The spokesperson also quoted from the daily briefing of Assistant Secretary of State P. J. Crowley in Washington on Monday when he said in response to similar questions that “we continue to have contacts with our Pakistani counterparts, and we continue to emphasise the importance of resolving this case''.

As for Pakistan, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said relations were anchored in mutual interest and mutual respect. “Both our countries are committed to further strengthening the bilateral relationship to our mutual benefit. Our relations are mature enough to navigate through difficulties. We must not lose focus of the strategic imperatives of Pak-U.S. relations.''

Asked what the U.S. proposed to do if Pakistan does not yield, the embassy spokesperson remained non-committal saying “we will continue to work with the Pakistani government to resolve this issue''. But , questions are being asked about the fate of the upcoming ministerial-level trilateral conference of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S. later this month; particularly since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is understood to have cancelled a scheduled meeting with Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference last week.

Adding to the woes of the Pakistan government, the provincial dispensation in Punjab — where the shooting took place and the case is registered — dug its heels in on Tuesday; asserting that it would not succumb to any kind of pressure.

Source:-http://www.hindu.com/2011/02/09/stories/2011020965242100.htm

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