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Waziristan termed Pakistan’s domestic problem: US diplomat hints at policy change

Published Mar 14, 2013 12:06am


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us ambassador to pakistan, richard olson
US Ambassador in Pakistan Richard Olson. – Photo by AFP/File

PESHAWAR: Indicating a major shift in American policy, Ambassador Richard Olson has described North Waziristan — once dubbed the hub of Al Qaeda’s central leadership — as Pakistan’s ‘domestic’ security problem.

The ambassador also said his country did not see any contradiction between fighting and talking to the enemy at the same time.

“North Waziristan is a domestic security issue of Pakistan and the decision whether or not to conduct an operation (there) is entirely up to its government,” he told reporters at a briefing at the US Consulate here on Wednesday.

When it was pointed out that before the Afghan Taliban were allowed to open an office in Doha, the US started pressuring Pakistan to take action against the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan, Mr Olson said that one could talk and fight at the same time.

“There is no contradiction in saying that there will be military pressure on the Taliban and simultaneously there is willingness to sit down and talk to them. We don’t see any reason that these cannot continue at the same time,” he said.

Mr Olson said that his recent meeting with Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman soon after the latter hosted a multi-party conference on talks with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was a “regular part of contacts with notables and politicians”.

He termed the meeting a courtesy call which coincided with the MPC and said that the Maulana had briefed him on the conference.

“The US does not have a position on these domestic discussions between TTP and the government,” he said.

When asked about the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, a new irritant in the Pakistan-US relations, Ambassador Olson said that he avoided public diplomacy on sensitive topics.

“I don’t want to conduct diplomacy on sensitive topics through the media. It will be best for the sake of relationship between the two countries to conduct discussion on government to government basis,” he replied when asked about the possibility of sanctions and their nature if Pakistan continued work on the controversial project.

When a journalist pressed him on the matter, he said: “You can take a look at Section 6 (A) of the Comprehensive Iran Sanction, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010, which is a publicly available document.”

Instead of directly opposing the gas pipeline project, Mr Olson chose to highlight several projects being financed by the US government to address energy issue in Pakistan.

He said that the US was providing help for refurbishment and rehabilitation of important power generating units — including thermal powerhouses at Tarbela and Mangla dams.


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Comments (6) Closed

Oz Mar 14, 2013 11:17am

Pakistani Nation must do something to ensure a new and responsible government is elected in the next elections. Then - the new govt should first device a strategy to finish the national debt at ANY COST.

Once we are out of debt - we can tell Uncle Sam to stick his policies where the sun don't shine.

Afzal Khan Mar 14, 2013 05:06am
Where was the USA in last 5 years why they din,t help then and why now.??????
Zak Mar 14, 2013 05:28am

Ya! Nuclear reactors to India and we all know what they will use that for and outdated useless equipment based aid to pak, a supposed ally.

Amir Bangash Mar 14, 2013 07:51am

It is fact that not only Waziristan but whole FATA ( Free Area for Terrorism All over the world) is a domestic security issue of Pakistan. FATA and area across the Pak- Afghan border have been the source of troubles not only to the regional countries but the whole world. Peace in the region is linked to the clearance of this area from terrorists. A terrorist is a terrorist and no one should look for and have soft corner for friendly terrorists.

M.Asghar Mar 14, 2013 09:11am

This "help" is part of the geopolitical game, the USA are playing in the region, where the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is being targeted as a part of this toxy play to harm Pakistan's vital interests vis a vis Iran, its essential neighbour.

khalidmurad1 Mar 14, 2013 08:10pm
They have learnt lesson now, previously they were playing on the Indian tune. They should better behave otherwise they will have another Vietnam.