After intense soul-searching, Pakistan and the United States on Monday agreed on revisiting all tracks of bilateral relationship at a point in time when the ties had sunk to the lowest.
If the flurry of statements were to reveal the truth, Senator Kerry once again managed to entice the Pakistani government, including the military, back into the coalition fold as he had done earlier when he had arrived to secure the release of CIA agent Raymond Davis.
The day saw a flurry of diplomatic interactions between the visiting US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator John Kerry and the Pakistani leadership. Both sides discussed the issues of mutual concerns and Pakistan’s reservations threadbare and agreed to move forward to realise “the common objectives against the common enemy”.
President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had an exchange of views with Senator Kerry on the situation arising from the unilateral American operation in Abbottabad to kill Osama bin Laden.
According to the joint statement, Senator Kerry said the secrecy surrounding the operation was strictly for operational security and not due to mistrust of the Pakistani leadership. He said even in the US government, very few officials knew about it. Kerry said that it was important to press the “reset button” in US-Pakistan relations.
The Pakistani leadership conveyed to Senator Kerry that Pakistan was a victim of terrorism and that the whole nation was united in eliminating this curse from its soil. Osama bin Laden was an enemy of Pakistan and the Al-Qaeda had declared a war against Pakistan and launched a spate of suicide attacks against its people, said the statement.
The Pakistani leadership made clear that Pakistan’s sovereignty and national interests must be respected and accommodated by the US, said the statement.
It was agreed that both US and Pakistan must recognise and respect each other’s national interests, particularly in countering terrorism in working together for promoting reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan.
It was agreed that all tracks of US-Pakistan engagement need to be revisited, with a view to creating a clear understanding on ways and means to carry forward cooperation in a mutually beneficial manner. It was also agreed that the two countries will work together in any future actions against high value targets in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s leadership welcomed the clear affirmation by Senator Kerry that the US policy has no designs against Pakistan’s nuclear and strategic assets. Senator Kerry stated that he was prepared to personally affirm such a guarantee. He said that he can write in blood: “we have no interest in Pakistan’s nuclear assets, however it is our desire to see these well protected and secure under proper command and control system”.
In furtherance of its existing commitment to fight terrorism, Pakistan agreed to take several immediate steps to underscore its seriousness in renewing the full cooperative effort with the United States. Kerry said: “Secretary of State Clinton will soon announce plans to visit Pakistan to develop new trust.” He added that senior US officials will visit Pakistan soon to have further discussions on the way forward and to complete preparatory work for Secretary of State Clinton’s visit to Pakistan in the near future.