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FM Hina urges mutual respect, trust in Pak-US relations

21 September, 2012

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WASHINGTON: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Thursday had discussions with the members of US senate Foreign Relations Committee on building trust and steering forward the bilateral relationship, as she underlined that Pakistan wants the ties be based on mutual respect.

Speaking after the meeting, the top Pakistani diplomat and Senator John Kerry, chairman of the foreign relations committee, both stressed the need to build mutual trust, as the two sides seek to put strained phase in relations behind. Pakistan's ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman accompanied the foreign minister to the meeting on the Capitol Hill.

Khar reiterated Islamabad's commitment to peace and security in Afghanistan. "I am encouraged by the frank discussion that we had - I think it is important to have discussion because we had too much mistrust and fears which have inhibited the course of our relations in the past." She voiced the hope that the talks between the two sides would help "open up new opportunities in pursuing our joint interests."

Khar said people of Pakistan want mutual respect in relations with US and to pursue goals as a sovereign people. If the stated objective of the US is peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region, then the two countries are pursuing that which is also in Islamabad's interest and a core goal - a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, she said. The foreign minister emphasised that a peaceful Afghanistan is prerequisite for peace and stability in Pakistan.

Underscoring the need for promoting tolerance amidst unrest caused by the anti-Islam film, Khar said fringe elements can force a great wave of chaos. "Islam is a religion of peace and the holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the messenger of peace." She advocated the importance of building harmony within civilisations.

Senator Kerry described the panel's meeting with Khar as a "positive step" towards trust building which, he added, takes time. Senator Kerry opposed moves by some Congressmen to cut off all aid for Pakistan, arguing that does not provide the way forward in the relationship.

"Walking away is simply not the option, and we are not going to do that," he said firmly. But Congress wants assurances from Pakistan that the countries will work together towards common goals and to foil terrorism plans to make both countries safer, he added. "We need to renew and reaffirm our mutual commitment to working together in order to make both our countries safer."

The Democrat from Massachusetts strongly condemned the blasphemous contents in an anti-Islam film, which has been made in the US and whose circulation on the Internet has led to widespread protests in the Muslim world. Kerry said there was room for protests (against the film) but no room for violence and taking lives.

On Pakistan-US bilateral relations, Kerry noted that the members of foreign relations panel had "an extensive and extremely productive" conversation with the foreign minister. He acknowledged the efforts of Pakistan's ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman and foreign minister towards improving the bilateral relations. "We are working hard to get this relationship back on track (after a difficult year) - because we know the importance of this relationship, Kerry said adding." "We are grateful to Pakistan for reopening the supply routes for our troops in Afghanistan."

He also appreciated Pakistan's key counterterrorism cooperation, particularly against al Qaeda militants along the Afghan border and intelligence sharing in the fight against terror. Washington, he said, was also "very appreciative of the swift response in recent days by Pakistani security (apparatus) to help protect the American consulates" in the face of demonstrations.


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