Pakistan on Thursday said it would continue its ‘multi-track engagement’ with the US law enforcement agencies in its counter-terrorism efforts despite recent hiccups in ties between the two countries.
“Pakistan attaches immense importance to its relations with the US. We have a multi-track engagement with the US. Law enforcement and counter-terrorism is one such track,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua at her weekly briefing.
However, Janjua refrained from directly commenting on the recent media reports claiming that joint intelligence operations between Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States have been halted since January due to the Raymond Davis affair, when the CIA operative killed two people in broad daylight in Lahore.
“All discussions with regard to counter-terrorism take place within the context of the law enforcement and counter-terrorism track,” said Janjua when asked about the state of relations between the spy agencies of Pakistan and the US.
Janjua said Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir was visiting Washington at the invitation of the US government on April 20 to hold talks on issues crucial for the two countries.
“The foreign secretary will be in Washington on April 21-22, to hold consultations on a broad range of issues, including bilateral relations, matters pertaining to counter terrorism and Afghanistan as well as ongoing developments in the Middle East and North Africa,” she added.
The spokesperson reiterated Pakistan’s public opposition to the US drone campaign in the country’s tribal belt.
“Drone attacks have become a main irritant in the counter-terror campaign.”
But she did not say what measures Pakistan could take to persuade the US to stop predator strikes. “We have taken up the issue of the drone attacks with the US government at all levels.”
Judicial committee visit
Earlier, in her opening statement, the spokesperson said the members of the Judicial Committee on Prisoners would visit Pakistan from April 19 to 23.
“The Judicial Committee on Prisoners comprises four eminent retired judges each from Pakistan and India,” she added.
The committee is charged with investigating the imprisonment of civilians in both countries who are accused of straying into the other country’s territorial waters.
Fishermen from both India and Pakistan are frequently jailed for crossing a boundary that is difficult to determine without sophisticated navigational equipment that most of the fishermen lack. Both sides have tried for years to solve the problem to no avail.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2011.
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