WASHINGTON: As tensions between the US and Pakistan seem to simmer down, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Marc Grossman said in an exclusive interview to Express News, that “it is not about ending the relationship with Pakistan, but about continued engagement.”
Ambassador Grossman said that Pakistan too recognises that the Haqqani network is a threat. “The question is not whether we will work together but how we’ll work together to try and deal with these issues.”
Dubbing the US-Pakistan relationship an important one for both countries, Grossman said that the US wants this relationship to work, “but it’s very important that both the governments and the people recognise that terrorism, and that includes the Haqqani network, is a threat to both of us.” Grossman’s statement comes as part of a series of statements from the US State Department and the Pentagon in the last three days to move away from the air of hostility that was created following Admiral Mullen’s statements on the Haqqani network and its links with the Inter-Services Intelligence.
He listed the high-level contacts between both countries, highlighting the meetings of Secretary Clinton with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh with Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides, and the meeting of US head of Central Command Gen James Mattis with Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and both the US and Pakistan Ambassadors continuing their engagements. He also highlighted the loss of life of Pakistani civilians since 2003 in acts of terrorism, and said that terrorism was a common enemy of both the US and Pakistan.
When asked how both countries could move forward in light of recent developments, Grossman said: “I don’t know if people in Pakistan will agree, but we ought to be able to find a way to identify our shared interests and act on them together. We can work our way through this, that’s what friends do, we can work our way through the challenges.”
Grossman also said that there was a need to keep focused on the people-to-people relationships, citing education and student exchanges with Pakistan and the US assistance given during the floods. He said that the statements coming from Pakistani leaders also signified that they wanted to find a way to move forward. “To me, terrorism is a threat, and we hope that joint action will get taken.”
Additionally, the envoy said: “Don’t forget that a big part of Admiral Mullen’s statements was that Pakistan and the US needed to stay engaged, and that’s what we want to do. This is not about ending relationships, rupturing relationships, it is about continued engagement with Pakistan. The US is a friend of Pakistan and will be there with the country.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2011.