Pakistan and the United States are working quietly to bring some normalcy to their troubled relationship following last month’s Nato airstrikes in Mohmand Agency.
As part of some behind the scenes efforts, Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha visited Doha this week where he was believed to have met senior US military and intelligence officials.
The US military has a strong presence in Qatar as Centcom maintains its regional headquarters in what is known as the Arab world’s financial capital.
Pasha, who returned from his two-day trip on Wednesday, visited Doha just days after the US made public its probe into the November 26 Nato attack that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
The inquiry was conducted by the US Centcom and it was said that the ISI chief’s visit was linked to that.
In its initial response, Pakistan rejected US findings that said Pakistani soldiers fired first at American and Afghan forces, but conceded that Nato has to share the majority of the blame for the attack.
The army, however, hasn’t given its detailed reply which is likely to clarify which direction the relationship between Pakistan and the US will head towards. However, the visit of the ISI chief and his reported meetings with US officials is an indication that the two sides are willing to work through this ‘bad patch’.
There was no official word, however, from either side regarding the ISI chief’s visit. Despite repeated attempts, the chief military spokesperson was not available for an official reaction.
But Pasha’s visit to Doha was confirmed by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. A military official also confirmed that the ISI chief toured the Arab state but would not comment on the purpose of his trip. “It could be anyone’s guess,” the official said.
Another official indicated that the trip may be linked to the proposal for setting up a Taliban office in Doha for the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
However, there are speculations that Qatar is mediating between the civil and military leadership over the Memogate controversy that pitted the two against each other, as Premier Gilani is also expected to visit the Qatari capital in the second week of January.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2011.
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