The country’s highest forum for defence policy consultation and coordination, the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC), will have yet another session this week to fine-tune its strategy for upcoming talks with the United States.
The DCC is seeking normalisation of relations with the US in light of the new foreign policy framework recently approved by parliament. The committee met last week and decided in principle to reopen vital land routes for US-led coalition forces stationed in Afghanistan after signing a fresh agreement with the US.
However, the DCC, headed by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, could not finalise a strategy on a number of issues relating to the reboot of ties with the US.
“That is why another meeting has been convened,” said an official familiar with the development. The meeting is likely to take place on Wednesday just ahead of US special envoy Marc Grossman’s visit to the capital. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that the civil and military leadership wanted to establish ‘absolute clarity’ on reviving cooperation with Washington before Grossman’s trip.
A number of US officials were planning to travel to Islamabad as part of reengagement between the two countries but the visits were put on hold at the government’s request, the official added.
The government is currently under pressure to resume ties with Washington but also under pressure to follow the broader parameters set by parliament.
However, another official pointed out that the DCC would likely finalise its strategy on how to move forward with the US in the upcoming meeting.
Anticipating the development, the government has given the green light to the visit of US President Barack Obama’s point-man in the region, Marc Grossman, who is leading a delegation of senior officials to reset ties with Pakistan.
Grossman is expected to arrive in Islamabad on April 25 and will have discussions with the country’s top leadership on the new policy terms. Foreign Office officials have confirmed the visit but the US Embassy refused to offer any comment on the planned trip.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2012.
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