US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter has said that his country will respect Pakistan Parliament’s decision on the future of its relations with the US.
The statement comes a day after a joint sitting of Parliament began with the opposition demanding more time to study the proposals made by a parliamentary committee.
“Your Parliament has taken up the issue of our relationship and we look forward to engaging with your representatives once they come to a conclusion,” Munter told a gathering of businessmen on Wednesday at the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KPCCI).
He reiterated that the November 26 Salala attack, which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, was a mistake and must not recur. “After the terrible tragedy that took place at Salala, we must work together to prevent such incidents,” he said.
However, while he spoke of mutual understanding and cooperation, the envoy said that Pakistan should not look towards the US for “each and every thing”. “Pakistan has to solve its problems itself and our country can only facilitate the process but you have to do it.”
Encouraging Pakistani businessmen, he said that traders and industrialists should consult the US consulate on their problems which will be solved on priority.
Earlier, KPCCI President Affan Aziz said that the US government should provide aid for the reconstruction of Peshawar and also support industrial revival. “Peshawar has been the frontline city in the war on terror that has left its economy completely devastated,” he said.
Ambassador Munter also met Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Masood Kausar, Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti and Provincial Chief Secretary Ghulam Dastageer Khan.
Meanwhile, an official statement said that the US envoy was scheduled to deliver a speech to students at the University of Peshawar but the session was cancelled due to security concerns.
‘Committed to Pakistan’
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton termed Pakistan Parliament’s review of ties with the US as significant, hoping they would come away with an “honest, constructive and mutually beneficial relationship.”
In response to a question at a joint press conference with Afghan Foreign Minister Dr Zalmai Rassoul, Secretary Clinton praised the democratic process Pakistan is engaged in, reiterating her stance of supporting democracy in the country.
Clinton said the US remained committed to a relation with Pakistan, recent ups and downs notwithstanding.
Meanwhile, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said the US wants to move forward in its relationship with Pakistan.
Speaking to reporters at the press briefing at the Pentagon, spokesperson George Little said: “We are willing to discuss the outcome of parliamentary review with Pakistan. It is premature to discuss what Pakistan’s parliament might say.”
(With additional input by Huma Imtiaz in Washington)
Published in The Express Tribune, March 22nd, 2012.