ISLAMABAD: A seasonal thaw in frosty Pakistan-US relations may be round the corner, thanks to backdoor efforts currently under way, sources say.
The ties between the two allies in the war on terror plummeted after the US-led Nato troops attacked Pakistani border check posts on November 26. The two sides, since then, have made hectic behind-the-scene efforts to defuse the tension. The sticking point at the moment is the reluctance on the part of the US to accept complete responsibility for the Nato airstrikes, official sources told The Express Tribune.
Last week, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha went to Doha to meet US military and intelligence officials and convey Pakistan’s concerns over the findings of the US probe.
While the US inquiry places major blame on Nato, its findings say Pakistani soldiers fired first. “The US needs to accept its mistake instead of sharing the blame,” said a Pakistani military official. He said the army was analysing the US report and is expected to issue its detailed response after the corps commanders meeting in the next few days.
The US, through back channels, has hinted at coming up with a clear stance on the Nato attacks in order to pacify resentment in Pakistan, the official said. If Washington does accept the major responsibility and offers a public apology, it will help normalise the situation, the official added.
Meanwhile, the government has decided to send its new envoy to Washington ahead of schedule, said a Foreign Office official. When approached, Ambassador-designate Sherry Rehman confirmed that she is leaving for Washington this week.
In another indication of cooling of temperatures, Islamabad opted not to react to the fresh move by Washington to freeze about $850 million in aid to Pakistan.
Pakistan was purportedly assured by the US that the assistance would continue, despite linking aid with the government taking steps against improvised explosive devices.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2012.
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