US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described relations between the US and Pakistan on Sunday as “very challenging,” a tacit admission of strained ties between the key allies.
Speaking after Pakistan boycotted a trilateral meeting on Afghanistan in Brussels to protest a drone attack that killed 39 people, Clinton said Islamabad was caught between wanting to help and dealing with its own extremist threat.
“It’s a very challenging relationship, because there have been some problems,” she said in an interview with the American television network ABC’s program “This Week.”
“But I think, on the other hand, we’ve also developed good lines of communication.”
Clinton noted the cooperation of the Pakistani government in securing the release of Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor accused in a double murder.
“We were very appreciative of getting our diplomat out of Pakistan, and that took cooperation by the government of Pakistan,” she said.
Washington always insisted that Davis had diplomatic immunity from prosecution. He was released earlier this month after a payment of $2 million, but Clinton has denied the US paid any compensation.
Sources in Peshawar said 12 Taliban militants were among those killed in the March 17 drone strike on a militant hideout in North Waziristan.
But the US ambassador was called in to meet with foreign secretary Salman Bashir who conveyed "a strong protest" over the attack and demanded an apology and explanation from the US.
“It was evident that the fundamentals of our relations need to be revisited. Pakistan should not be taken for granted nor treated as a client state,” a foreign ministry statement said.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2011.