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Ties with US fully repaired, says Khar

November 28, 2012

ISLAMABAD Nov 28: Pakistan and the United States have restored full military and intelligence ties after relations hit a low point last year, and Islamabad will take further steps to support a nascent Afghan peace process, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Wednesday.

“There was a fairly difficult patch and I think we’ve moved away from that into a positive trajectory,” Ms Khar told Reuters in an interview, referring to Pakistan-US relations.

“We are coming closer to developing what could be common positions. We wish to see a responsible transition in Afghanistan,” she said, adding relations with the US were fully repaired, including military and intelligence contacts.

“We are having very useful, deep conversations with the US,” she said, as the two countries try to find common ground on Afghanistan ahead of the scheduled 2014 pullout.

Pakistan recently released mid-level Afghan Taliban prisoners to help facilitate peace talks between the militant group and the Kabul government, the clearest sign it was committed to advancing Afghan reconciliation.

Ms Khar said Pakistan was willing to take further steps but would not say whether that would include releasing senior Afghan Taliban figures, like the former second in command, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

“I think it is important that we have intensive engagement on what needs to be done. For us in Pakistan today, the most important capital in the world is Kabul,” said Ms Khar, because instability there could spill over into Pakistan, and fuel its own Taliban insurgency.

She said the Afghan and Pakistan governments were also discussing ways to strengthen military cooperation.

The minister said Pakistan also wanted to pursue closer ties with India.

“The Pakistani leadership has shown a great willingness to move forward, sometimes at the cost of losing some political capital, because sometimes improving ties with India might not be the most popular thing to do,” said Ms Khar.

Many Pakistani politicians blame India for insurgencies in Pakistan or spiralling crime rate, saying Delhi wants to weaken their country.

India, in turn, blames Pakistan for sending militants to infiltrate the disputed region of Kashmir and accuses it of shielding those behind the Mumbai terror attack. India executed the only surviving perpetrator, a Pakistani man, last week.—Reuters