ISLAMABAD: Ties between the United States and Pakistan are still on hold over the Nato cross-border air attack and Washington should not push Islamabad to go after militant groups including the Haqqani network or bring them to any Afghan peace process, Pakistan’s foreign minister told Reuters on Thursday.
“Now that the re-evaluation process is underway as we speak, so till the time that that re-evaluation process in not complete, we cannot start the re-engagement,” Hina Rabbani Khar said in an interview.
The November 26 Nato attack, which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, plunged relations between Washington and Islamabad to their lowest levels in years.
The United States sees Pakistan as critical to its efforts to wind down the war in neighbouring Afghanistan, where US-led Nato forces are battling a stubborn insurgency.
But the Nato incident exacerbated a crisis in relations which erupted after US special forces killed Osama bin Laden in a unilateral raid on Pakistani soil in May last year.
“I would say they (ties) are conveniently on hold until we start re-engaging,” said Khar.
The United States has long sought Pakistani cooperation in tackling the Haqqani network, the Afghan insurgent group now seen as the gravest threat to Nato and Afghan troops.
Pakistan argues that the United States needs to be patient and gain a greater understanding of the region’s complexities before acting, and that pressure would only hurt efforts to pacify Afghanistan.
“‘Push’ is never wise. I think that every country must be allowed to develop their own strategy and their own timing,” said a confident Khar, wearing a traditional head scarf and a colourful shawl.
Relations with US based on mutual respect, interest: FO
Foreign Office (FO) Spokesman Abdul Basit also said on Thursday that Pakistan wants a relationship with the US that is based on mutual respect and mutual interest.
During the weekly media briefing, Basit said that the parliament is working on finalising the terms of engagement between the two countries and it will lead to a positive outcome.
“No inter-state relationship can be built without first mutually agreeing on its fundamentals,” Basit added.
Commenting on US special envoy Marc Grossman’s cancelled visit, the FO spokesman said that Pakistan wants his mission to be productive and result-oriented and hence “we want Grossman to come to Pakistan after we have completed our homework.”
Grossman, on a mission to discuss post-war Afghanistan, will head on an unscheduled trip to New Delhi after Pakistan refused his visit.
Pakistan informed the US officials that it did not want to receive Grossman until Islamabad completes an ongoing review of relations with Washington, which have sunk to rock-bottom in recent months.