Pak seeks to reset ties with US amid row

US-Pakistan relations have been strained since the May 2 raid by American Special Forces that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Last Updated: Oct 13, 2011, 23:50 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan`s top leadership on Thursday
sought a reset of the relations with the US, saying they
"should go beyond terrorism" and be based on clearly defined
and mutually agreed terms of engagement to prevent
"operational irritants".

The need to revamp Pakistan-US ties was raised by both
President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in separate meetings with visiting US Special
Representative Marc Grossman.

The American envoy arrived in Islamabad for talks with
the civil and military leadership aimed at easing tensions in
bilateral relations and charting a way forward in war-torn
Afghanistan.

Zardari told Grossman that Pakistan-US ties "must not be
transactional but based on long-term partnership and resting
on the foundations of mutual respect and shared interests".

In an apparent reference to US criticism of Pakistan`s
role in the war on terror, Zardari said "any public messaging
that tended to undermine this bedrock of relationship shrank
political space" for Pakistan’s government.

The two sides should follow "clearly defined, well
documented and mutually agreed terms of engagement" to avoid
"operational irritants", Zardari said.

He called for "mutual restraints in public
pronouncements" that adversely impact the relationship. A
cooperative and joint roadmap is needed to overcome the trust
deficit, he added.

During his meeting with Grossman, Gilani responded to
calls from the top American leadership for Pakistan to do more
in the war against terrorism by saying his government is
committed to fight "extremism and terrorism in their
totality".

At the same time, Gilani said bilateral relations "should
go beyond terrorism". The two leaders agreed to pursue
cooperation in areas like trade, water and power and
infrastructure, said a statement issued by the Prime
Minister`s House.

Before his talks with Gilani, Grossman met Pakistan Army
chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani at the General Headquarters in
Rawalpindi. They discussed measures for a "Pakistan-US
cooperative framework for peace in the region", a military
statement said without giving details.

Grossman also met Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who
said during a brief interaction with reporters that the
meeting had focussed on the Pakistan-US strategic partnership
and the upcoming Istanbul conference on Afghanistan.

Khar said she and Grossman had discussed ways to
"continue to build on this partnership which is important for
the two countries and the region". This will be "an intensive
process in which we would like to have a meeting of minds as
we go forward", she said.

The sharing of ideas and understanding of each other’s
perspectives is expected to "lead to the strategic coherence
that we often talk about", Khar said. She said Pakistan would
play a "constructive role" in the Istanbul conference.

Grossman, who arrived in Pakistan after visiting China,
India and several Central Asian states, said all players in
the region "need to support a stable and secure Afghanistan".
At the same time, he said the Pakistan-US relationship is
important for both countries.

"We talked about how we can continue in a systematic way
to identify the interests that we share with Pakistan and
there are many and then find ways to act on them jointly," he
said.

US-Pakistan relations have been strained since the May 2
raid by American Special Forces that killed al Qaeda leader
Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad. The ties
were further affected after senior US officials, including
President Barack Obama, called for Pakistan’s Inter-Services
Intelligence, to sever its links with militant groups like
the Haqqani network.

Grossman`s arrival in Islamabad coincided with two US
drone strikes in the lawless Waziristan tribal region that
killed seven suspected militants, including a senior commander
of the Haqqani network.

PTI