Sherry Rehman. — AP Photo

WASHINGTON: Pakistan has one united policy towards the United States, which has the support of all government institutions, says Ambassador Sherry Rehman, she has also emphasised the need to dispel the impression that Pakistani institutions are divided over the country’s relationship with Washington.

“Pakistan speaks today as one united government, and we will have one united policy towards the United States,” she told a group of Pakistani journalists.

“The elected government will stand firm in its resolve to protect our military when our soldiers are martyred in the line of duty, as they were on border post of Salala, and the military stands committed to defend our borders from any incursion to the last man.”

She noted that the Pakistani military was also strongly committed to defending the current democratic set-up in the country and there’s no threat to the government from any quarters.

Ambassador Rehman also emphasised the need to work with the Pakistani-American community for promoting Pakistan’s interests in the United States.

“This embassy is not going to work alone in Washington. It is going to work with the community to attempt to change the way this important bilateral relationship works,” she said.

“The task here is onerous. No one person or even group of committed officials can achieve what we can together as a force multiplier for common goals.”

The ambassador acknowledged that these were not “normal times” for Pakistan-US relations as in the last few months, both sides had witnessed repeated episodes where a lack of mutual trust and mutual respect had undermined the bilateral relationship.

She noted that for the first time in the history of Pakistan, a comprehensive parliamentary review was under way to establish new principles on which to base Pakistan’s ties with the United States.

The review is likely to be completed in the next few weeks and will represent a multi-partisan parliamentary consensus, which will have the support of the Pakistani public, and the imprimatur of democracy.

“A strong Pakistan-US relationship is both still viable and productive, and is vital to protecting peace, promoting security and preserving democracy and freedoms in our part of the world,” she said.

The ambassador noted that as great political and economic shifts took place in the world, critics of a strong US-Pakistan relationship were questioning its viability in both nations, “yet I feel we can use this opportunity to re-set our relationship on a clearer, more stable footing based on public consent and strong mutually articulated goals that are achievable”.

“The message that I carry from Islamabad is loud and clear. We want to remain friends with the United States, but as equal sovereigns, based on mutual respect and shared values,” she added.

“Our friends in America must know that our sacrifices in the war on terror far outnumber those of any other international or Nato coalition partner in Afghanistan.”

She said she had not come to Washington to “peddle a victim narrative” and said that Pakistan was determined to redefine this bilateral relationship from dependency to partnership. “Economic assistance can never be a substitute for strong and binding trade relations. We expect to be economic and political partners, not just battlefield allies,” she said.


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