WASHINGTON, Dec 23: The US State Department said on Friday that Pakistan had asked Washington to reschedule a visit of the Central Command head Gen James Mattis because Pakistani leaders were busy with an internal political dispute.
The United States and Pakistan strive to find a common ground to continue their partnership a day after an official US report conceded mistakes that led to the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a Nato attack last month.
Earlier on Friday, the Pakistani military rejected key findings of the US investigation and said the report was unlikely to repair the severely damaged relationship between the two countries.
“I think, this is going to take some time for them to get the report. We have seen some initial comments from the government officials,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, adding that US Ambassador Cameron Munter was meeting top government officials in Islamabad, including foreign and interior ministers, to explain the report.
When asked about news reports that Pakistan had refused to be briefed by General Mattis on the report, Mr Toner said he would not agree with “such a characterisation” of the development.
“My understanding is that simply the timing was not right. They decided to postpone it. As you all know there is some internal political dynamics right now in Pakistan. So they felt they better postpone till then,” Mr Toner said. “Although a new date for such a briefing has not been determined yet, “it has not been cancelled. That's my understanding,” he added.
Mr Toner noted that the US-Pakistan relationship had faced many challenges this year. “At each juncture, we have tried to address those challenges. We have committed ourselves to working with Pakistan and we will continue to do that because we need to work with Pakistan on the issues we face, the type of challenges we face,” he said.
“It's hard to say what is going to happen next year. All I would like to say on behalf of the US (is) that we desire closer and more productive relationship with Pakistan --- materially and politically.”
Pakistani officials, however, have indicated that they expect a formal apology from the US over the deaths. They point out that the report has already vindicated their position on this issue.
The official US report acknowledged at least two major mistakes: a communication failure within the US chain of command in Afghanistan and feeding wrong information to Pakistani liaison officials.