US President Barack Obama is sending his key trouble-shooter to Pakistan later this month amidst efforts to reset ties in light of the new foreign policy guidelines recently approved by parliament.
Former presidential hopeful and chairman of the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee Senator John Kerry is expected to travel to Islamabad on April 29 to meet the country’s top civil and military leadership, an official told The Express Tribune.
He will also meet the opposition politicians and interact with the civil society in an attempt to convey a message that the US still considers Pakistan a key partner despite recent strains.
One official said that the influential US senator would likely offer a formal public apology on behalf of the Obama Administration over the Nato airstrikes on a Pakistani check post in November last year.
The formal public apology over the attacks that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers is one of the key preconditions set by parliament for the normalisation of ties including resumption of vital land routes for the Nato forces stationed in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, ahead of the crucial trip, the Defence Committee of the Cabinet will have another session on April 24 to firm up Pakistan’s position on key issues with Washington.
Official sources said senior US figures including President Obama’s ‘point man’ for the region, Marc Grossman, intended to visit Islamabad at the earliest but the trip was delayed at the request of the government, which is seeking clarity in its approach on redefining the strained relationship.
Though the new policy terms provide broader guidelines, the government with its key stakeholders is working on a framework providing a clear roadmap for addressing some of the crucial issues with the US, sources added.
US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter told a private news channel on Thursday that his country was ready to discuss new recommendations with Pakistan but said it did not necessarily mean that Washington would accept all of the demands.
His remarks appear to suggest the differences with Pakistan on drone strikes inside the country’s tribal belt.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2012.