US Congress Gives Mixed Messages On Pakistan Ties, Pending CSF Bills To Be Cleared

434

Context
28-02-2012_Congressional DelagationInfluential US Senator John Kerry has commented that Pakistan is going through a turbulent phase and he is making efforts to improve ties between US and Pakistan. He added that the stability in Pakistan is intricately linked to the national interests of US.

Speaking at the US Senate, Kerry commented, “Pakistan faces major challenges today, including an economic and fiscal crisis, a growing insurgency within its borders and cities, and chronic energy shortages”.

The Senator also highlighted increasing anxiety in Pakistan about the implications of the end of war in Afghanistan for regional stability. He noted that the US goals and strategy in Afghanistan should be made ‘absolutely clear,’ and added that the reconciliation process should be Afghan-led and endorsed by ‘key regional players’.

He acknowledged that the Pak-US relationship has been strained due to the ‘series of tactical disputes’, and needs of lot of work ‘to rebuild a productive relationship’. However, Kerry stated, “We cannot allow events that might divide us in a small way to distract from the shared interests that unite us in a big way”.

Last week, a bipartisan US delegation led by Congressman David Dreier visited Pakistan. During the visit, he stated that both Republicans and Democrats have dissociated themselves from the bill seeking the ‘right of self determination of Baloch people’. He added that, “US is committed to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan….We do not support an independent Balochistan and only support a united Pakistan”.

The visit is seen as ‘soft resumption’ of bilateral cooperation damaged by NATO airstrikes on Salala check post. During a meeting with the delegation, Prime Minister Gilani reportedly commented that Pakistan wants excellent relations with the US, but it was important to follow a partnership approach, based on mutual interest and respect. Gilani added, “It is important that Afghanistan, Pakistan and US were on the same page and worked together to promote national reconciliation, peace and stability in Afghanistan”.

On the other hand, Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, has asked President Obama to “personally intervene” in Dr Shakil Afridi’s case. Rohrabacher recently introduced a series of controversial legislation on Balochistan. He also asked the US Government to give Dr. Shakil Afridi US citizenship and Congressional Gold Medal for his services.

As alluded by PoliTact earlier, media reports have now confirmed that intense back door diplomacy continued between the two countries despite the tense relations. As a result, US has agreed to clear the disbursements related to the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) that had been delayed due to the tensions. As oppose to $3.4 billion billed by Islamabad for the services rendered in the fight against terror, US has agreed to pay $2.5 billion.