WASHINGTON: Calling the parliamentary review of Islamabad’s ties with the US as Pakistan’s right as a sovereign country, US special envoy Marc Grossman has expressed hope that the two countries will be able to forge a wide-ranging relationship based on mutual interests and respect.
“I hope that whatever review comes out and whatever conversation follows the review, that we can have a respectful relationship, and an active relationship,” Grossman told Voice of America’s Urdu Service in an interview on Tuesday.
The special envoy, who has just returned from a visit to the Middle East and South Asia, after Pakistan denied him permission to visit. cited counter-terrorism, Afghanistan and many other fields of mutual interest as areas where the two countries can cooperate.
Grossman said that the US very much wants a respectful relationship with Pakistan.
“The most important thing I will say to the people of Pakistan is that we respect the people of Pakistan. That is why we are pursuing policies such as civilian assistance, support for the democratic government and this idea that we ought to be able to find our shared interests together and act on them together.”
Grossman further said, “My message to the people of Pakistan is that we ought to be able to go back to the (relationship of) mutual respect.”
While not confirming that the US is talking to the Taliban at this point, Grossman did say that Washington was using all of its “contacts in the region” in order to get Afghans talking to Afghans.
He disagreed with the contention that the US is sidelining anyone in the Afghan reconciliation process.
Commenting on a New York Times story that the Karzai government feels left out and is starting a parallel track with the Taliban in Saudi Arabia, Grossman called it ‘wrong’ and added that how the Afghans talk to each other is ‘their business.’
“However this takes place, wherever this takes place, the important thing is that Afghans talk to Afghans,” he reiterated.
Ambassador Grossman reiterated the State Department’s position that the US wants to talk itself ‘out of a job’ by getting the Afghans to talk to each other. Grossman said that there was still work to be done in terms of opening an office in Qatar but it is a good idea because this is where both the Taliban and the Afghan government will be most comfortable initially. However, he called it an ‘interim arrangement’ and felt that the final Taliban office and the center of talks should be in Kabul.