US Secretary of State Hillary Clinto. – Photo by Reuters

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday welcomed a parliamentary debate on US-Pakistan relationship, calling it a “quite significant” development.

At the same briefing, Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul assured the Pakistanis that a destabilised Pakistan was not in the interest of Afghanistan.

At a separate briefing at the Pentagon, Press Secretary George Little said that despite their differences, the United States and Pakistan would continue to cooperate with each other, particularly in the fight against terrorists.

“We also respect the democratic process that Pakistan is engaged in. We think it is actually quite significant that the democratically elected government, the democratically elected parliament, is engaging in these matters,” Secretary Clinton told reporters after a meeting with her Afghan counterpart at her office.

“They should be able to engage in their debate. But we stand ready to continue our work with the government and people of Pakistan,”Secretary Clinton said.

The Afghan foreign minister also emphasised Pakistan’s proximity to Afghanistan, noting that it required both countries to work with each other.

He said: “A peaceful, stable, democratic Afghanistan is definitely the interest of Pakistan. And a destabilised Pakistan is not the interest of Afghanistan, neither the United States.”

He emphasised the need for Pakistan and Afghanistan to work together and “come out with a full understanding that we have a common enemy, and we are linked to each other, and the stability and prosperity of one is the interest of other”.

On Tuesday, a joint parliamentary panel in Islamabad demanded an end to drone strikes in Fata, an apology over a Nato air raid that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November and asked for taxing convoys that bring supplies for US and Nato forces in Afghanistan.

Secretary Clinton, as well as the Pentagon, declined to offer in-depth comments on these recommendations, saying that they would wait for parliament to complete its process.

“Is US willing to accept those conditions?” asked a journalist.

“We have made it clear we respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan,” Secretary Clinton said. “We want an honest, constructive, mutually beneficial relationship with Pakistan.”

The US, she said, had remained committed to its relationship with Pakistan through the recent ups and downs.

“We’ve been working through these difficulties and challenges. We believe we have shared interests. We believe we have the same enemies,” she said.

“We believe that it’s important to support counter-terrorism against the insurgents who kill and maim tens of thousands of Pakistani people, who send teams across the border to kill and maim people in Afghanistan and to kill and main our soldiers and others.”

She said the US believed that supporting democracy and prosperity in Pakistan and stability in the region was good for Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the United States.

“So we’re waiting to see the results of the parliament’s debate, their recommendations to the government,” she said. “Since it is ongoing, I think it would be not appropriate for me to comment at this time.”

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