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Sherry Rehman urges trade, end to drone strikes


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WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s outgoing ambassador to the United States Sherry Rehman has said the Pakistan and the United States have improved their ties considerably from a low-point in 2011 but asked Washington to end drone strikes in the tribal areas in order to help put the relationship on sustained upward trajectory.

In a farewell speech to a gathering of senior American officials and Pakistani-Americans, Ms. Rehman who resigned from her post this week after May 11 election, also called for using trade as the engine for enhanced bilateral partnership.

The ambassador said during her assignment she was guided by the belief that Pakistan and the US should have sustained relations on the basis of mutual respect.

Commenting on the contentious issue of drone strikes the US carries out in pursuit of militant targets on the Pakistani soil, she noted that this kind of footprint roils anti-American discontent and fuels the “cognitive disconnect” between the two nations.

“This is one thing that has to change if we are ever to be sanguine that we are on the path to an upward bilateral trajectory,” she added.

She said terrorism is very much Pakistan’s problem too and the people of her country have been bravely fighting it as proved by the May 11 election.

The farewell reception was attended by top US officials including White house advisor Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, USAID Administrator Rajev Shah and former US ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, American think tank experts and journalists.

Ms. Rehman, who led Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts in Washington in a tension-filled phase following a spate of unsavory incidents in 2011, also highlighted the need for the two countries to acknowledge each other’s roles in the good work they do.

“I take this opportunity to say to the people of the United States, stand by our side as you have done so many times in history. But stand by us as long term friends, for the right reasons, and we can achieve many breakthroughs together.”

The ambassador praised the team of Pakistani diplomats for their dedicated work in helping the two countries navigate some very turbulent waters and onerous challenges in the relationship.

Ambassador Rehman said as she leaves her post, she has the satisfaction of knowing that Pakistan and the US “are on the cusp of a new normal, a less hyberpolic relationship, but one founded as much on the sustainable continuum of shared democratic values instead of only the sharp, edge of strategic compulsions.”

Speaking on the occasion, Deputy US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan David Pearce appreciated Ambassador Rehman’s diplomatic efforts towards improvement in bilateral relations, saying she has “played a key role in helping us rebuild the relationship between the two countries following a very difficult period in 2011-12.”

“Thanks in no small part to your dedication and efforts that the two countries are in a much better place than they were 18 months ago,” he noted.

Comments (7) Closed

AZMAT KHAN May 18, 2013 03:46pm

Very good Sherry.

Shawn May 18, 2013 04:03pm

I wonder if we are going to find out the reason for Sherry Rehman's resignation. She is an outstanding diplomat and a great face for Pakistan in the West. Sherry is also very outspoken about the contentious blasphemy law in Pakistan and I worry about her safety when she returns to Pakistan. Thank you Sherry for your hard work and dedication during a very difficult time in Pak-US relations.

Anees May 18, 2013 06:17pm

Why didn't she ask them BEFORE she resigned? How has she suddenly realized all this NOW?

Aj May 19, 2013 01:48am

In election, her bet was on pti side. She did not see pml ,N, coming.

Zaheer May 19, 2013 04:06am

@Shawn: It is a common practice for politically appointed ambassadors to resign with the change of the Government.However, she has to be commended for doing the honorable thing by resigning early,rather than being pushed out. Given her integrity while a minister in the PPP Government, her intellect and her record as an ambassador, one can only hope that PML-N Government will find a way to seek and utilize her services in the cause of Pakistan. Good luck ambassador Rehman.

Riaz Ahmad May 19, 2013 10:04am

Irrespective of pious diplomatic speeches, the reality is quite different. As a super power, US has core policy interest which it achieves through carrot. When it pays Pakistan to deliver a certain policy objective, it expects value for money, Pakistan as a hired client has to deliver on the transaction. Why should US give Pakistan free money or access to its market with nothing in return, US is not a charity organisation; Pakistan has to earn the market access by giving something in return. I believe you have got my message.

Omer Maqsood May 19, 2013 01:46pm

Darling beggars cannot be choosers. Keep your bright ideas to yourself as if America cares and listens to you. You are there to enjoy yourself on the government expense so continue doing that. No one gives a damn.