Islamabad: Pakistan underlined its
concerns about US President Barack Obama`s backing for India`s
bid for permanent membership of the UN Security Council, an
issue that has become an irritant in relations between
Islamabad and Washington.
The matter was raised during a meeting between
visiting US Special Representative for Afghanistan and
Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood
Qureshi. The meeting was also attended by Foreign Secretary
Salman Bashir and US Ambassador Cameron Munter.
A statement issued by the Foreign Office said Qureshi
and Holbrooke discussed the "UN Security Council reform
process" and Pakistan-India relations.
However, Pakistani sources said Qureshi reiterated
Islamabad`s concerns about Obama`s backing for India`s
candidature for the UN Security Council.
Shortly after Obama announced his stance in a speech
to the Indian Parliament during his recent visit to New Delhi,
Pakistani authorities called Munter to the Foreign Office to
convey their concerns over the development. Pakistan’s
parliament too has passed a resolution opposing the US backing
During Holbrooke`s meeting with Qureshi, the two sides
reviewed the status of bilateral relations following the third
round of the Pakistan-US Strategic Dialogue held last month
and issues related to peace and security in South Asia.
Qureshi said the Pakistan-US partnership is evolving
on the basis of "mutual interest and mutual respect".
President Asif Ali Zardari`s visit to the US and
Obama`s visit to Pakistan next year will "significantly
contribute towards not only further strengthening bilateral
relations but also promoting peace and stability in the
region", the Foreign Minister claimed.
Holbrooke, who is in Islamabad to attend a meeting of
the Pakistan Development Forum, reiterated America`s
commitment to a strong partnership with Pakistan encompassing
all areas. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
attached "enormous importance" to ties with Pakistan, he said.
The two sides also discussed the situation in
Afghanistan, especially in the context of promoting
reconciliation and reintegration. They agreed that a stable
Afghanistan is necessary for regional peace and that both
countries would work together to achieve shared objectives.
In a separate development, Holbrooke announced during
the Pakistan Development Forum meeting that the US will
reallocate assistance funds to Pakistan to target recovery and
reconstruction after this year’s devastating floods.
"As a demonstration of our sustained commitment to
expanding our partnership with Pakistan, and in close
consultation with our Congress, the US will commit up to USD
500 million of the first year of Kerry-Lugar-Berman funds one-third of the civilian assistance budget for the year to
benefit flood victims as they continue with the critical
recovery and reconstruction process, the Special US envoy for
Afghanistan and Pakistan said.
These funds will be in addition to the USD 500 million
already provided by the US for flood relief.
Holbrooke welcomed Pakistan`s plans to move forward on
macro-economic reforms as a "significant step toward
self-sufficiency" but said the country "needs to continue its
work with the International Monetary Fund and development
banks to expand the tax base and develop sustainable energy
During a meeting with Holbrooke, Prime Minister Yousuf
Raza Gilani said his government is committed to "press through
the economic reform package by addressing the concerns of all
He hoped that the US will fast track the disbursement
of aid under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation and the
Coalition Support Fund.
The top US envoy told Gilani that the passage and
implementation of economic reforms agenda by Pakistan will
convey a "significant and positive message" to international
partners for helping the country.