Washington: The United States has said that it will continue to work with Pakistan towards improving the vitally important bilateral relationship, which saw significant challenges throughout the year.
The State Department’s comments came amid strains on the bilateral relationship over November 26 NATO cross-border attacks on Mohmand check-posts, which resulted in death of 24 Pakistani soldiers.
“We desire a closer, more productive relationship with Pakistan both militarily and as well as politically.
And we’re constantly working to build that closer cooperation.
As I said, we’ve been very forthright in acknowledging that this is a relationship that needs to work,” acting spokesman Mark Toner said.
He was asked as to how confident he felt that 2012 would be better for the relationship between the two countries than the current year, which began with the killing of two Pakistanis by CIA contractor Raymond Davis in Lahore, saw more tensions following the May 2 unilateral U.S. raid on al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad and is now ending with differences over findings of an American investigation into November 26 air strikes.
“We’ve been, I think, pretty candid in saying that there have been some significant obstacles throughout this year in the relationship.
“But at each juncture, we’ve tried to address those challenges and we have recommitted ourselves to working with Pakistan. And we’re going to continue to do that because we believe we need to work with Pakistan. It’s too important.The issues that we face, the challenges we face, are too important,” Toner remarked.
Since it began a high-stakes engagement in the region a decade ago with the 2001 start of war in Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks, the United States has greatly relied on Pakistan’s support both for security on the porous Pak-Afghan border and transportation of supplies to landlocked Afghanistan.
In return, the U.S. has supported Pakistan with economic and military assistance but there have been differences on several issues related to the lingering Afghan conflict at Pakistan’s western border, which has also impacted on Pakistan’s internal security and economy.
On the findings of the Centcom report into November 26 incident, shared with the media this week, the spokesman said, Washington will continue to offer briefings to senior Pakistani officials on it.
“The report will be published, at some point go public. And we’ve been very forthright in discussing its contents. We’re going to continue to engage with them as we go forward.”
The spokesman said a briefing by head of the Central Command Gen James Mattis to Pakistani military leadership, scheduled for this week, had been postponed due to internal situation in Pakistan.
Questioned about political situation in Pakistan, the spokesman reiterated Washington’s support for democratic process in the country.
“We support the democratic process in Pakistan; we support the constitution and the rule of law, as well as the will of the Pakistani people. We want to -we believe, rather, that this is a matter for the Pakistani people to resolve within their own political process.”