A revival of strategic dialogue between Pakistan and the United States next month, recent important visits from US military officials and various other acts of goodwill can be expected from the US in the near future, sources in Pakistan’s embassy in Washington, DC have told The Express Tribune.
The goodwill gestures are being expected in the aftermath of the cessation of a ban on the ground lines of communication through Pakistan that had lasted for 7 months.
Sources from both sides confirmed that top officials from both countries have agreed to take advantage of the 67th United Nations General Assembly session, falling next month in New York, to give a fresh start to the strategic dialogue between both countries.
Sources stationed at the Presidency in Islamabad informed The Express Tribune: “President Asif Ali Zardari will attend the United Nations General Assembly this time as all preparations indicate that there are bright chances to have bilateral meetings with different heads of states but a meeting with the US president is also on the cards”.
Regarding the process of the revival of bilateral ties between the two allies, the US initiated a goodwill message to Pakistan through diplomatic channels stating that “the US is serious in rejuvenation of the torn relations with Pakistan as the Salala incident had brought great damage not only to the existing strong relationship (with Pakistan) but also to the war efforts against terror.”
Similar views were surfacing at Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) regarding the expected talks: “We also want to give a fresh start to the ties with the US as there is no use of lingering on issues that have already been settled by both of us, therefore, an agenda for the revival of strategic dialogue is being chalked out in both countries as of now,” an FO official said.
“Keeping in view the tension that erupted between Pakistan and the US since the Raymond Davis issue, Osama bin Laden’s killing and the Salala episode, we hope that the US will have a realistic approach in addressing all issues,” the official went on to say.
During the next strategic dialogue rounds, he said, Pakistan’s tentative focus will be mainly on the social sector and non-security related areas specifically. As many as 11 core groups are part of the strategic dialogue process, including economy and trade, energy, defence, security, strategic stability and non-proliferation, law enforcement and counter-terrorism, science and technology, education, agriculture, water, health and communication, and public diplomacy.
It was learnt that Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, along with Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, is likely to visit Washington in September to finalise the agenda and to discuss other pending issues for the fourth ministerial session of the strategic dialogue.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2012.