WASHINGTON: The parliamentary review will present an opportunity for both the United States and Pakistan to reset ties on more consistent, transparent and predictable lines, says Ambassador Sherry Rehman, who presented her credentials to US President Barack Obama on Wednesday.
Pakistan started a parliamentary review of its relations with the United States after the Nov 26 Nato raid on its military posts that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The review goes beyond the attack and tries to set new parameters for bilateral ties.
In an interview to Dawn, Ambassador Rehman acknowledged that US-Pakistan relations were facing a challenge after the Nato attack on Pakistan military posts in Mohmand.
“In the absence of an apology, Pakistan had no option but to take it to parliament for a review. However, I am clear that no-one from Pakistan is looking for a confrontation with any state, and hope that the review will present an opportunity for both countries to reset ties on more consistent, transparent and predictable lines,” she said.
At a regular briefing at the State Department, spokesperson Victoria Nuland expressed similar views, saying that the United States wanted a strong, long-term relationship with Pakistan.
“We believe we both need a strong, continuing, cooperative relationship across the range of important issues, political, economic, security. We want to get back to the full range of business together, and we want to do that as soon as the Pakistani side is fully ready to have those conversations with us,” she said.
Ms Nuland noted that Ambassador Rehman had already met Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other senior officials before presenting her credentials and all these officials stressed the need for a stronger relationship with Pakistan.
Ms Rehman, when asked to share her views on this relationship, said: “We have joint goals that we should work towards in the region, and I hope that we can resume our ties on the basis of mutual trust, interests and respect.”
“Given the tensions between Islamabad and Washington, how much room do you have to operate? What will be your strategy for improving relations?” she was asked.
“I really see my role as an envoy who will have to navigate the highs and lows of this important relationship by defending Pakistan to the best of my abilities, and by authentically sharing the views conveyed to me with the governments of both countries,” she said.
“I am not a solo flyer, and I think the job carries onerous responsibilities with it, so my aim will be to engage as many people and institutions as one can in representing Pakistan’s political, security, economic interests as well as cultural and business goals here in the US.
“We need to see the Pakistani community in the US as a key resource to mobilising opinion in Pakistan’s favour, and they will be our first line of public diplomacy and outreach here in Washington. Strengthening and broadening the bilateral relationship, setting it on a firmer, more equitable footing, and educating the people of both countries to better understand each other and to advance Pakistan’s goals would remain my key priorities in Washington,” Ambassador Rehman said.
She said her meeting with Secretary Clinton was good, as expected. “She was kind enough to receive me very warmly, and stressed that Pakistan is an important relationship which they would like to resume at all levels. We both agree that a strong Pak-US relationship can be both productive and viable.”