While briefing the media Friday, State Department s deputy spokesman, Mark Toner said “I don t agree that Pakistan has refused to entertain the visit offer of US Central Command s (CENTCOM) chief Gen. Mattis for briefing on investigation report of the November 26 Nato attack in Mohmand”.
“We believe the timing was not right and Pakistan decided to postpone it. There are some internal political dynamics in Pakistan right now, so they felt it better to postpone the visit of Gen. Mattis to a later date,” he stressed.
On a question, he said new date of the visit has not been decided yet, but it has not been cancelled. Pakistan, he said, has been briefed already about the Nato investigation report, but not sure if a full copy has been provided to them or not.
“This is going to take some time for Pakistan to look at the report and study it before we can know of their response,” he suggested adding that the US administration had seen some initial public comments on the reports from Pakistani officials.
Regarding compensation to the bereaved families of Pakistani soldiers, who lost their lives in Nato airstrike, he conceded that the US is offering compensation payments to Pakistan for the loss of life of 26 soldiers through Departments of Defense, who have more details about the timing and the amount.
On the contacts with Pakistani leadership after the Nato strike investigation report, he said that the US ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter has met with Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik while ambassador Marc Grossman is also in touch with Pakistani officials. However, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has not spoken to anybody in Pakistan as yet about the report because she is on foreign travel in Prague, he responded.
“We are going to continue to offer briefings to senior Pakistani officials and the report will also be made public at some point. You know, we have been very forthright about the contents of the investigation report and we are going to engage with Pakistanis as we go forward,” he assured.
On reports of political turmoil in Pakistan and the rumours that Army wants to oust President Zardari, he said “we believe in and support the democratic process in Pakistan. We also support the constitution, rule of law and will of the people of Pakistan. However, we believe that this is a matter for the Pakistani people to resolve within their own political process,” he argued.
On a query about 2011 being the most-troubled year in Pak-US relationship, he said “it is difficult to talk in absolute terms or use generalisations about this relationship. We have been pretty candid in saying that there have been some significant obstacles throughout this year in the relationship with Pakistan. But at each juncture, we have tried to address those challenges and re-committed ourselves to working with Pakistan,” he pointed out.
Toner said that the US will continue to do that because “we believe that we need to work with Pakistan and the issues and challenges we face are too important.”
“We are constantly working to build that closer cooperation with Pakistan and acknowledge that this relationship needs to work,” he stressed.
When asked to predict the nature of relationship in 2012, he said “it is hard to say what is going to happen next year. Speaking on behalf of US, I can say that we desire a closer and more productive relationship with Pakistan, both militarily as well as politically,” he emphasised.
- Published at Dunya News on Dec 24, 2011
- Published at Dunya News
The United States wants to keep Pakistan away from this project as part of the strategy to put pressure and isolate Iran from international community because of the objections over its nuclear programme. The US has already placed several sanctions on Iran and if Pakistan goes ahead with the gas pipeline project with Iran, it could raise question-marks on the US funding for Pakistan as per the US laws.
A US delegation also conveyed it s reservations to Pakistan during the last Pak-US working group on energy meeting in Islamabad a couple of months ago. As compensation, the US is urging Pakistan to look at alternate energy options like Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project and has also offered with technical expertise and finances for it.
Talking to Dunya News, US authorities said that they believe “Pak-Iran gas pipeline project is also not very feasible technically”. This project is “unlikely to solve the energy problems of Pakistan and is much more ambitious in its present form instead of being practical in nature”, they opined.
A US state department press officer, talking to Dunya News on conditions on anonymity, confirmed that the US was not too happy with Pakistan looking towards Iran for gas and had conveyed it to Pakistani authorities as well. “We recognize Pakistan has significant energy requirements and are working to find effective ways to help it meet its needs”.
“The proposed Pakistan-Iran pipeline, if built, could raise concerns under the Iran Sanctions Act. We have raised this issue with the Government of Pakistan and are encouraging it to seek alternatives. Transactions such as these weaken international community pressure on Iran to fulfill its international obligations and address concerns about its nuclear activities”, the press officer added.
- Published at Dunya News on Dec 19, 2011