The resumption of the strategic dialogue between the United States and Pakistan after three years is being considered an important step towards development of a new understanding on the key issues.
A Pakistani delegation led by Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz travelled earlier this week to Washington to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry and his team for the first ministerial meeting since 2010.
The dialogue ended with an expression of commitment to Pakistan’s economic growth, increased trade, regional stability and mutually-determined measures to counter extremism and terrorism. Pakistan had been specifically interested in getting enhanced market access to the U.S. markets and assistance for its energy projects.
U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson, talking to journalists at the embassy, described the dialogue as a “successful attempt” to advancing the objective of a “stable, secure and prosperous Pakistan”. He said there was a desire in Washington to go forward and be supportive of Pakistan.
As the Pakistani delegation was visiting Capitol Hill earlier this week, a senior lawmaker told a Senate panel that the threat emanating from Pakistan’s tribal areas had diminished.
This was a marked difference from the recent past when Pakistan was often targeted as “the sources of all troubles” at Congressional hearings.
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told her panel that “the threat emanating from Pakistan’s tribal areas has diminished due to persistent counterterrorism operations; the threat from other areas has increased”.
The same day, the U.S. State Department issued a statement saying that the United States was “confident that Pakistan is well aware of its responsibilities with respect to nuclear security and has secured its nuclear arsenal accordingly”.
Following are some observations on the just concluded dialogue between the two countries:
The resumption of strategic talks at a high level is a positive signal especially in the back drop of the withdrawal of Nato and American military troops from Afghanistan.
The reduction of the terrorist threat from Pakistan’s tribal areas indicates success in counter terrorism efforts, but does not preclude the expected increase in Taliban activity after the foreign troops leave Afghanistan.
To reach an understanding on the security of nuclear arsenal testifies that Pakistan has fulfilled its responsibilities according to the standards set forth by the international community.
The commitment to support Pakistan in its economic development is the recognition of the significance that lies in the long term stability of Pakistan. Pakistan’s security and stability is a guarantee for peace in Afghanistan.
It is important that the United States continues to engage Pakistan at the highest level. It is recommended that the two should exchange intelligence to counter the common threat of terrorism. Pakistan remains a frontline state in the international war on terrorism and no solution to the crisis in Afghanistan can be reached without its active participation.
Pakistan can also encourage President Karzai of Afghanistan to reach an agreement with the United States on the future of the American military presence in Afghanistan.
It is hoped that the pace of the dialogue process between the United States and Pakistan will maintain its regular momentum in order to evolve a better understanding on all issues of bilateral and regional interest.
Dawn News January 1, 2 and 3, 2014