US - Pakistan recent table talks- any new room?

Oct 22, 2011

ISLAMABAD —  Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recent visit to Pakistan seemed to  soften Washington’s stand on a key point of contention between the two countries: whether Islamabad should take military action against Pakistan-based insurgents fighting American troops in Afghanistan, or try to engage them in peace talks.This shift in the U.S. stance could give Washington and Islamabad new room to cooperate on ending the Afghan war. Clinton said Islamabad must rid the country “of terrorists who kill their own people and who cross the border to kill people in Afghanistan.”

Meanwhile,The U.S. still believes that military force is still needed to push the Taliban and their allies to make concessions. Pakistan,prefers on the other hand to reduce violence to induce the insurgents to come to the table. But, Pakistan is furthermore unsure of exactly what kind of deal the U.S. and Afghan governments might strike with the insurgents, when the atmosphere is permeated by feelings of distrust on all sides.

The U.S. has long demanded that Pakistan take greater military action against Taliban militants and their allies who use Pakistani territory to regroup and to send fighters to attack forces in Afghanistan. Recently, the U.S. has pushed for an assault on the Haqqani militant network, which the U.S. alleges is supported by the Pakistan military’s spy agency,  reacting to which , Pakistan has denied supporting the Haqqanis, but has also made clear that it will not conduct an offensive against the group’s safe haven in the North Waziristan tribal area, a position that has not changed despite the two-day visit by Clinton and other senior national security officials.

As the analysts believe Pakistan’s refusal is driven by its belief that the Haqqanis could be key allies in Afghanistan after foreign forces withdraw, especially in countering the influence of archenemy India.However,The Pakistani military, says that its failure to act against the Haqqanis is just a question of limited resources.

Pakistan doesn’t believe the U.S. plan to use military action to force militants into peace talks will work. It said,“In our culture, it may not work if you want to negotiate with the same adversary you are fighting,” said the Pakistani security official. “You have to declare a pause in fighting if you want to give peace a chance.”

In the late 1990s, the founder of the Haqqani network, Jalaluddin Haqqani, refused Islamabad’s demand to hand over militants in his camps in Afghanistan who had carried out attacks inside Pakistan. Following the Sept. 11 2001 attacks, Taliban leader Mullah Omar refused Pakistan’s plea to hand over al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.Perhaps the greatest barrier to a potential peace deal, however, is that nobody seems to have a clear idea whether the Taliban and their allies have any interest in negotiating.“We’re not sure,” said Clinton. “There may be no appetite for talking on the other side for ideological reasons or whatever other motivations.”
“These kinds of public pronouncements don’t help enhance the space for cooperation,” said the Pakistani security official. “They badly affect the space, which is limited to begin with.”

Zardari stresses enhanced Pak-US consultations based on mutual respect

ISLAMABAD, Oct 21 (APP): President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday underscored the importance of enhanced consultations between the two countries on the basis of mutual respect, sovereignty and interests. He was talking to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, is leading a high-level delegation, who called on him at Aiwan-e-Sadr here. During the one-on-one and delegation-level meetings, the two sides discussed host of issues relating to Pak-US relations, fight against militancy, regional situation with particular reference to the situation obtaining in Afghanistan.

He said public criticism of Pakistan’s role undermines its common struggle against militancy in the region.He said, “Our people and the leadership is among the first ones to fully realize and comprehend the threat posed by violent mindset which is bred on the premises of deprivation and fuelled by sense of inequality.”The President counted innumerable human sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in fight against militancy and extremism. He said 30,000 innocent civilians along with 5,000 military and police officers laid their lives for the cause of securing their lands from the clutches of militant mind-set. Discussing situation in Afghanistan, the President reiterated that Pakistan supports all efforts for regional peace, prosperity and connectivity, based on existing realities of the region.
The President said Pakistan, being the immediate neighbor has abiding interest in the peace, stability, security and prosperity of Afghanistan and will continue to support every effort in this regard.  He said besides being immediate neighbors, Pakistan and Afghanistan share many issues of similar nature thus making Pakistan affected directly by any development across the border.  He said Pakistan supports Afghan-led and Afghan owned reconciliation process.
Ms. Clinton appreciated Pakistan’s contribution in promoting reconciliation. She said that US administration desired continued partnership with Pakistan.She agreed with the President’s strong emphasis on promoting trade rather than aid as the vehicle for development cooperation and assured that the U.S. administration was working to facilitate enhanced market access for Pakistani products.
Ms. Clinton also appreciated the economic reform initiatives taken by Pakistan which involved making difficult decisions and tough choices.
Affirming U.S. continued support for the democracy in Pakistan, she also applauded unanimous resolution adopted by All Parties Conference recently.
( APP)

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