Confidence returning to Pak-US relationship: Sherry
25 February, 2013
WASHINGTON: Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman has said Pakistan-US relationship is back to a new sober but stable level, upward trajectory and the level of confidence is returning.
Speaking at the Harvard University on 'Pakistan and the United States: the road to 2014 and beyond' Ambassador Rehman said Pakistan hopes to be a valuable friend and partner of the United States even after the drawdown of forces in 2014.
"A level of confidence is returning as we the GLOCS and AIRLOCS become the main artery for the NATO supplies and drawdown" the ambassador emphasised.
She said Pakistan wants to help the US manage a smooth and responsible transition in Afghanistan and would like the US to lay down the foundations for Afghanistan's future political and economic stability. This is in Pakistan's self interest because peace in Pakistan is difficult without peace in Afghanistan.
She said Pakistan today is at a crossroads of history, struggling each day to move from a challenging past into a future at peace within itself and at peace with the world.
"If Pakistan and the US are to move forward in lockstep to stabilise the region, which should be our fundamental joint goal, then they will have to understand each other better", the Ambassador stressed.
Rehman said the present generation of Pakistanis has a quite different perception of the United States. They see Muslim discontent in the Middle East, drone attacks on forty television channels every time there is such an attack, and this is how they see America projecting power abroad. They also hate the terrorists that rip through our schools and hospitals and ask our government and parliament why Pakistan is often asked to 'do more' every time there is an IED attack in Afghanistan, or why 46,000 of our citizen's and soldiers' who have been killed don't count enough?
She said contrary to the headlines in US newspapers, most Pakistanis are not extremists. She said if US plays its part and work through the endgame of a long war, it will only bring stability and prosperity to the region.
Sherry Rehman pointed out that both US and Pakistan were in two wars together next door. They won the first war, but lost the peace.
Pakistan and the US should have learnt two important lessons from the first war in Afghanistan: One, terrorism must be unambiguously defeated everywhere, and the application of military force is never enough in a theatre such as Afghanistan.
She said Pakistan has certainly learned one lesson, that no one can broker a sustainable peace in Afghanistan except the Afghans themselves. Therefore, Pakistan fully supports an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of reconciliation and peace. She said today it is our considered coordinated inter-agency policy that Afghans have to lead the process for peace in their country.
Pakistan will support all roadmaps for a negotiated settlement of the Afghan war. It will not support any groups, or play any favourites. The government and state of Pakistan do not see Afghanistan as our strategic backyard. We hope that the important gains made by US NATO forces can be protected, especially in terms of fundamental freedoms for women and access to social services.
She said Pakistan want to see Afghanistan as a united, independent and sovereign state and urge all concerned to join the reconciliation process, because we recognise that Pakistan has vital stakes in a peaceful, self-ruled Afghanistan, just as we have the most to lose from a turbulent neighbour. She said Pakistan recognises that the road ahead is full of challenges, but its goal is to be diligent in search for clarity and convergence among Pakistan, US and Afghanistan.
"The US decision to conclude the war in Afghanistan, the longest in its history, in 2014 looms large over policy and public debates today. "There is deep concern over whether the US will be able to leave a reasonably stable Afghanistan behind or if the blood and treasure invested over the course of a decade will have yielded no tangible results," she said.
She said it is crucial that the principal actors in this fight – the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan - get it right this time round.
"Pakistan cannot afford a repeat of the 1990s, when the Soviet withdrawal led to the same by the US and Afghanistan sank into a devastating internecine conflict." Sherry Rehman hoped the international community can see a clear learning curve and rethink the approach to the region.
She said to prevent a repeat of history after 2014, US and Pakistan must trust each other, understand each other challenges, recognise that the problems in Afghanistan are multi dimensional and require the same complex solutions, do not go crashing out in an exit that run the risk of sinking Afghanis into instability, US should not expect Pakistan to deliver stability in Afghanistan in an era where 40 countries and billions of dollars could not, stabilise and moderate the US footprint in Pakistan, make trade and the highway to new future and build common together.