While US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said his country is ‘losing patience’ with Pakistan, his deputy is expected to make it clear to Pakistani officials that Washington is unmoved by Islamabad’s sovereignty tantrums.
On a recent India tour, Panetta had said that the Obama administration would not call off its drone campaigns which, Pakistan says, infringes on its sovereignty.
US Assistant Defence Secretary Peter Lavoy, who arrived in Islamabad late Friday on a two-day visit, is said to be carrying a ‘stern message’ for Pakistan’s civil and military officials.
He is likely to ask Pakistani officials to take Panetta’s statement seriously, according to an official at the Foreign Office in Islamabad.
Lavoy has been tasked by the Obama administration to convince Pakistani authorities to unblock the Nato supply routes that it had blocked as a punishment for the deadly US air raid on Pakistani border posts six months ago.
Lavoy is expected to warn Pakistan’s civil and military officials of possible ‘consequences’ of not lifting the blockade.
Acting spokesperson for the US Embassy in Islamabad, however, refused to confirm this.
“The US assistant defence secretary will be meeting his counterparts to discuss an array of issues,” Robert Raines told The Express Tribune without giving further details.
Islamabad has already been incensed by Leon Panetta’s allegations of terrorists having ‘safe havens’ in the country.
Terming Panetta’s views ‘misplaced and unhelpful,’ Foreign Office spokesperson Muazzam Ali Khan said on Saturday that Pakistan “will never allow its territory to be used against any other country”.
Leon Panetta is “oversimplifying some very complex issues which Pakistan is dealing with in its efforts against terrorism”, said the spokesperson in a statement.
“These issues need to be seen in the context of overall peace and stability in Afghanistan and the bordering region,” he added.
The US Embassy’s acting spokesperson had a diplomatic response: “The US defence secretary spoke for himself and categorically cleared the American point of view in this regard. At the same time, Pakistan also reserves the right to stand up for its stance.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2012.
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