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US hopes Pakistan will resolve crisis lawfully

June 20, 2012


US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. -Reuters Photo

WASHINGTON: The United States expressed hope on Tuesday that Pakistan's latest political crisis would be resolved in accordance with the country's constitution amid a showdown between the judiciary and government.

The State Department did not expect the turmoil from a top court ruling to derail Washington's diplomatic dialogue with Islamabad, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

“We've said all along that we expect that Pakistan will resolve any of these internal issues in a just and transparent manner in accordance with Pakistan's own laws and constitution,” Nuland said.

“Our understanding is that the Pakistani government itself is meeting now to decide how it goes forward from here,” she said.

Supreme Court disqualified Yousuf Raza Gilani from office on Tuesday in a ruling that dissolved the cabinet and threatened to trigger elections later this year.

Despite the uncertainty, Nuland said the US working relationship with Pakistan would go ahead.

“Throughout this process, which has been going on for a number of months now, we have continued to work with the Pakistani government and try to get through some of these issues that have been difficult,” said Nuland, referring to disputes including a Pakistani blockade on Nato supply convoys into Afghanistan.

“So it is our hope and expectation that we'll be able to continue to do that, but they obviously have to work their internal issues internally.”

Relations between Pakistan and the United States have come under severe strain over the past year, following a unilateral US raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at his Pakistani compound last year and a botched US air strike that left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead in November.

Islamabad shut its border to Nato supply convoys after the air strikes and talks designed to reopen the routes have stalled.

Washington so far has refused to issue a formal apology over the incident, instead expressing regret and offering condolences.

Top US officials, including Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, have voiced mounting frustration at Pakistan's failure to move against Haqaani militants who stage attacks on Nato troops in Afghanistan and exploit havens inside Pakistan.