Pakistan and the United States agreed to take steps to repair ties as President Barack Obama telephoned President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday, according to a statement released by presidency in Islamabad.
Relations between the two countries, wary at the best of times, deteriorated sharply after US special forces found and killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2.
“The two leaders agreed to take appropriate steps to repair the ties between the two countries on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit,” the Pakistani presidency said in a statement.
The Bin Laden raid humiliated the Pakistani military and invited allegations of incompetence and complicity, while Washington has increasingly demanded that Islamabad take decisive action against terror networks in the tribal badlands on the border with Afghanistan.
“President Obama appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in the fight against militancy,” the statement said. “President Zardari said that the fight against extremism was Pakistan’s own and it had to fight it to the finish in its own national interest”.
The leaders also “agreed to have regular contacts and interaction at appropriate levels for the resolution of issues”.
Pakistan has come under mounting American pressure to open a ground offensive in North Waziristan, considered the premier bastion of Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants and a target for most of the US drone strikes.
But Lieutenant General Asif Yasin Malik, the Peshawar corps commander, who supervises all operations in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, recently said the army would undertake an operation when it wanted to.
Many analysts see the drone strikes as compounding pressure on Pakistan to take action.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 23rd, 2011.
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