ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has sought concrete guarantees from the US that its territorial sovereignty will not be transgressed in the future as a pre-condition to put their strained relations back on track.
With the relations at their lowest ebb since the November 26 deadly Nato air raid, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Friday that the US must respect Pakistan’s ‘red lines’ – its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In a meeting with Washington’s top diplomat in Islamabad, Cameron Munter, premier Gilani sought guarantees from the US that there would be no “breach of his country’s frontiers in the future.” Over two dozen troops were killed in the Nato airstrikes on Pakistani border posts in Mohmand Agency, forcing Islamabad to review it’s terms of engagement with the US.
Though the US has vacated the Shamsi Airbase and the key Nato supply route has been blocked, analysts say the worst is over and signs of thaw have started emerging.
Friday’s meeting was a clear signal. The prime minister said that his government’s primary responsibility is to safeguard Pakistan’s dignity and honour, adding that respect for sovereignty and a guarantee to not repeat unilateral action are the ‘minimum’ that Pakistan expects.
Ambassador Munter emphasised that both countries should fully cooperate to fight the menace of terrorism.
Prime Minister Gilani said that his country wanted to work with the US to defeat the common enemy – terrorism. However, he added that relations between the two countries must be based on mutual respect.
“No war can be fought without the support of the people,” he added. With regard to his country’s policy vis-à-vis Afghanistan, PM Gilani said that an independent, prosperous and stable Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interest. “We will support a reconciliation process in Afghanistan which is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned and does not destabilise Pakistan,” he added.
Ambassador Munter said that both Pakistan and the US need to cooperate with commitment and single-mindedness to defeat the common enemy. Convergence of interests between the two countries against the enemy provides the realistic basis to continue to collaborate and save the world from the curse of extremism and terrorism, he said.
Munter expressed his government’s resolve to probe the deadly Nato air raid and formulate a strategy to avoid such incidents in the future.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2011.
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