US visit met 'all the expectations': Pakistan
26 October, 2013
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's attempt to woo US had been successful and that his much-hyped meeting with US President Barrack Obama met 'all the expectations'.
Foreign Office Spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry told reporters at the Foreign Office during a weekly press briefing that relations between two allies in the war on terror had been turbulent for the last two years and it was necessary to 'reset' the uneasy relationship. "Pakistan and US have a very important relationship which, though, has gone through several ups and downs. The primary achievement of the visit is setting the course for a fresh start in relations between Pakistan and the US on the basis of trust and mutual respect," the spokesman said, and hoped that the 'new beginning' will yield positive results in the longer run.
He said the prime minister had pleaded Pakistan's stance on drone strikes forcefully and logically. He said Pakistan demanded an immediate halt to the drone attacks during all the meetings and on all the forums during the prime minister's visit.
Rejecting a report by Washington Post on Pakistani government's tacit approval to drone strikes, the spokesman said present government's policy on the issue is very clear. "Whatever understanding there may or may not have been in the past, the current government is very clear on the matter. Drone strikes are violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and are also counter-productive. They too violate the international laws." He hoped that US will respect consensus decision of whole the political leadership and the general public in Pakistan and review its strategy regarding drone attacks.
The spokesman said the meetings of expert-level working groups on energy and war against terrorism will be held in near future which is a major outcome of the prime minister's visit. He said energy groups of both countries will meet in November, followed by a US-sponsored Pakistani trade mission meeting US energy companies in Houston Texas. He said, as per announcement by President Obama, US Trade Representative will invite his Pakistani counterpart to hold a council meeting of US-Pakistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
The spokesman said Pakistan wanted the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline be viewed in the context of acute energy needs. He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made Pakistan's position clear during his visit to the US. "All options are on the table and government is pursuing the project," he added.
The spokesman said there is no bilateral agreement between Pakistan and US on transfer of prisoners. Pakistan has applied for acceding to the Council of Europe Convention and any discussion on the issue of Dr Afia Siddiqui is possible once this process is done.
The spokesman also came hard on New Delhi for violating the LoC ceasefire agreement, expressing 'disappointment' that no progress has been made on ending ceasefire violations despite a meeting between Pakistani and Indian prime ministers.
He said Indian troops targeted 27 Pakistani posts along the LoC while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was visiting US. "Even the timing was so unfortunate. (It happened) when our prime minister was in US to meet President Obama," he said.
The spokesperson said India should respect the ceasefire and reciprocate Pakistan's sincere efforts for peace and stability in the region.
"We have absolutely no interest in agitating at LoC. Why would we do that at a time when our PM is visiting US," he asked.
He said despite these violations, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has extended a hand of friendship to India and has repeatedly expressed Islamabad's desire to have good relations with New Delhi.
"Our prime minister has repeatedly said he wants neighbourly relations with India. He wants to improve ties with India. But such things will also have to be addressed by military officials so that the next phase of improving relations can begin. Our sincerity is very clear."
To a question that Pakistani troops also resorted to attacks on Indian posts, the spokesperson clarified, "Pakistani troops follow a policy of not indulging in firing first. They only retaliate when fired upon."
"We agree that the ceasefire violations at the LoC are a matter of great concern. We believe that two prime ministers had agreed on a mechanism that DGMOs must meet immediately to resolve the matter," he said and added that the two countries need to sit down and resolve these matters.