WASHINGTON: The new Pakistani government and the United States are both anxious to work with each other on security and economic agendas, says a senior US official.
James Dobbins, Washington’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, also acknowledged that Islamabad had increased its support to the Afghan peace process during the last six months.
At a briefing at Washington’s Foreign Press Centre, Mr Dobbins welcomed an expected meeting between Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Manmohan Singh in New York later this month, saying that better relations between India and Pakistan would also help bring stability to Afghanistan.
He insisted that relations between the new Pakistani government and Washington were excellent and US Secretary of State John Kerry was “on a first-name basis” with Prime Minister Sharif and knew the country well.
“It’s clear that we now have a government that has a mandate from the people, that has a clear majority in the parliament, that is committed to moving forward both on the security and the economic agendas,” he said.
“And we’re anxious to be helpful and they’re anxious to work with us in order to allow us to be helpful.”
Responding to a question, Mr Dobbins said the US was not directly involved in Pakistan’s efforts to open a dialogue with the Pakistani Taliban although the two countries had discussed this issue.
He also recognised Pakistan’s role in facilitating direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. “Pakistan has also, particularly over the last six months or so, become active in supporting an Afghan reconciliation process and urging the Afghan Taliban to participate in that process,” he said.
The United States, he said, was still committed to this process and would like to “see Doha become a forum for negotiations about peace in Afghanistan, negotiations principally between the Afghan High Peace Council and the Taliban”.
“In terms of the Pakistani Taliban, we, of course, have no direct role in that regard,” said Mr Dobbins when asked to comment on Islamabad’s decision to engage TTP in peace talks.
Mr Dobbins noted that the decision to open a dialogue with TTP was taken at an all-party conference in Islamabad recently and he also had discussed this issue with the Pakistani government. “But it’s not one that the United States is as directly engaged in as it is in the peace process in Afghanistan,” he added.
Mr Dobbins noted that China had a close relationship with Pakistan and also shared America’s goal of stabilising the region.