The government expressed the hope on Sunday that its growing row with the United States over a jailed US functionary will not scuttle its crucial talks with Washington and Kabul on efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. Tensions have been rising between Pakistan and the United States over the case of Raymond Davis, a U.S. consular employee who shot dead two Pakistanis last month in what he said was an attempted robbery. The U.S. State Department on Saturday said a meeting scheduled this month in Washington among U.S., Afghan and Pakistani officials had been postponed, citing "political changes" in Pakistan. Pakistan Prime Minister announced a new, smaller cabinet last week, dropping Shah Mehmood Qureshi as foreign minister. Neither Pakistan nor the United States has linked the postponement of the trilateral meeting to the detained consular employee, but diplomats have said Washington had put many high-level dealings, including official visits to Pakistan, on hold because of the standoff. Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said Islamabad was looking forward to the rescheduling of the trilateral meeting as soon as possible as "such meetings yield positive results for peace and security." "We hope one person would not drive Pakistan-U.S. relations and we hope we would not be losing sight of the strategic imperative of our relations," Basit told Reuters. The trilateral meetings have been held periodically to foster stability in Afghanistan, where around 100,000 U.S. troops are fighting Taliban militants, and in Pakistan, where a fragile government battles an insurgency on its own. The controversy over Davis is the latest issue pitting Pakistani officials against their U.S. counterparts even as they struggle to project an image of cooperation on security. On Friday, a Pakistani court kept Davis in jail for 14 more days, in a sign of deepening the row that could threaten U.S. assistance to the country, one of the largest non-NATO recipients of American military aid. The United States says Davis's arrest is a violation of international conventions because he has diplomatic immunity, while Islamabad says the matter will be decided by its courts. The shootings have taken anti-Americanism in the mainly Muslim nation to new heights as supporters of the slain men have held several protests and burned U.S. flags. In addition to the two men shot and killed by Davis, a third man was killed when a vehicle from the U.S. consulate, apparently en route to rescue Davis, struck and killed a passerby.
By: Ary News