Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi and General Ashfaq Kayani arrived in Washington DC Sunday with a high-power delegation to participate in the first-ever strategic dialogue with US leaders, during which Pakistan is expected to seek civilian nuclear assistance and military equipments aimed at balancing its power with India.
The series of dialogues starting March 24 will be the fourth round of discussions between the two countries since 2006 and the first that will include direct involvement of top-ranking government officials from both sides.
Delegation that arrived today includes Fireign Minister Qureshi, Pakistani Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, ISI Chief Lt Gen Shuja Pasha and Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar.
From the United States, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense, Roberts Gates will attend strategic dialogues. Other key members of the US delegation will include leaders from the trade, agricultural and economic sectors. The US is going all out to demonstrate the seriousness and respect with which it views Pakistan.
Special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke last week said that this round of talks marks a “major intensification” to build and sustain a positive US-Pakistan relationship. He added that the March 24 proceedings will address various topics of enhanced cooperation between Pakistan and the US.
Holbrooke further said, “The United States is supporting Pakistan as it seeks to strengthen democratic institutions, as it seeks to foster more economic development, expand opportunities, deal with its energy and water problems and defeat the extremist groups who threaten both Pakistan’s security and stability in the larger region and American national security as well.”
Before leaving for Pakistan last week, Foreign Minister Qureshi that he will be proposing a “10 tracks of engagements,” to ehance cooperation between two countries.
The tracks will include issues in the areas of education, economy, energy, technology and more. Pakistani officials are fully expected to request the latest information concerning the aid that has been promised from the US. The United States Congress recently approved a $7.5 billion aid package for Pakistan to be delivered over the next 5 years.
Pakistani leaders are also expected to make an obvious push for acceptance of the development of their nuclear program. And of course, counterterrorism issues are also very near the top of the talks agenda. Pakistan and the US remain strong allies in the ongoing attempts to crush out both Taliban-based insurgency in Afghanistan and the constant battles against Al-Qaeda.
International attention is being placed on the fact that Pakistan has recently stepped up its efforts to root out terrorist factions within its own borders. The aggressive pursuit of militants, arresting Afghan Taliban members and even apprehending top Taliban commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and more are actions that all are being praised.
Holbrooke last week said Obama administration was, “extremely gratified that the Pakistani government has apprehended the No. 2 person in the Taliban. And he is where he belongs. And many other people have been picked up or eliminated and this is putting much more pressure on the Taliban. And this is a good thing for the simplest of reasons: It is good for the military efforts that are under way in Afghanistan.”
nI addition to the promised $7.5 billion in aid promised, the US has also recently provided Pakistan with 1000 kits for manufacturing laser-accurate explosive projectile weapons. These are designed to give Pakistani Air Force the upper hand in battles against insurgency. Further, the US has also pledged its strong support for continued economic and political reform within Pakistan.
According to CNN, Secretary Clinton has recently stated concerns about the possibility of Pakistan falling under control of terrorist organizations. She blames inefficient governmental strategies and policies that are simply ineffective. Clinton urged Pakistani citizens to voice their opinions and concerns via any mediums they can.
Secretary Clinton said during a scheduled appearance the past Wednesday in front of the House of Foreign Affairs Committee , “I think that we cannot underscore the seriousness of the existential threat posed to the state of Pakistan by continuing advances, now within hours of Islamabad, that are being made by a loosely confederated group of terrorists and others who are seeking the overthrow of the Pakistani state, a nuclear-armed state.” She continued, “I don’t hear that kind of outrage and concern coming from enough people that would reverberate back within the highest echelons of the civilian and military leadership of Pakistan.”
The March 24 round of US-Pakistan strategy talks promises to step up the cooperation levels from both countries’ leadership in order to more effectively create a sustainable, mutually-profitable future. Representative of the ever-increasing dedication to thwart and abolish terrorism planetwide, the US-Pakistani dialogue will form an important element of world development.
In a departure from its earlier stand, the US is ready to discuss Pakistan’s request for nuclear power plants, a media report said on Sunday.
“We are beginning to have a discussion with the Pakistan government” on the country’s desire to tap nuclear energy, US envoy in Islamabad Ambassador Anne W Patterson was quoted as saying in a Los Angeles-based Pakistani newspaper.
She told the Pakistan Link newspaper that earlier America’s “non-proliferation concerns were quite severe” but attitudes in Washington were changing. “I think we are beginning to pass those and this is a scenario we are going to explore,” she added.