Pakistan favours open communication with the United States of America

Thursday, March 29th, 2012 11:32:48 by

Pakistan called Thursday for open dialogue with the United States even before parliament wraps up a protracted debate on repairing an anti-terror alliance that nearly ruptured over a series of crises.

“Pakistan attaches enormous value to its contacts with the US,” said foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit, just days after the highest-level contacts between the two countries since the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden. “While
the parliamentary process is on and we expect it to complete as soon as possible, it is also important to keep channels of communications open.”

US President Barack Obama and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met Tuesday at a nuclear summit in Seoul for talks that an Obama aide said “made important progress” in both sides hearing from one another. On Wednesday,
the top US generals overseeing the Afghan war, John Allen and James Mattis, also met Pakistan’s army chief Ashfaq Kayani for the first time since US air strikes killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November.

Those strikes prompted a furious Islamabad to shut NATO supply lines into Afghanistan and evict US personnel from an airbase reportedly used as a hub in America’s drone war against Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants. Despite this week’s
talks, no date has been announced for Pakistan to re-open the Afghan crossings to Nato supplies and officials admit privately that the process may take longer than initially thought.

“The quick resumption of NATO supplies to Afghanistan is linked to an apology over the attack,” a senior Pakistani security official told AFP on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to media.

“Pakistan wants an apology but they (the US) are not willing to do so,” he added. US drone strikes are the other major thorn in relations. Pakistan wants them to stop, arguing that they are counter-productive because they kill
civilians, exacerbate anti-US sentiment and violate sovereignty. Frequency of attacks has diminished in recent months, but US officials are believed to consider them too useful in terms of killing Al-Qaeda and Taliban operatives to discontinue them altogether.

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