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US Ambassador Richard G. Olson.—File Photo

WASHINGTON: The United States has no desired outcome from the May 11 elections in Pakistan, says US Ambassador Richard Olson, while stressing the need for strengthening democracy in the friendly nation.

In a discussion on US-Pakistan relations at a Washington think-tank, Mr Olson also observed that there has been a strategic shift in Pakistan’s policies towards India and Afghanistan. Islamabad was now “on the cusp of” granting the most favoured nation status to its eastern neighbour, he said.

The ambassador said both the United States and Pakistan recognised that in the past they had a relationship that tended to go in cycles, “from periods of excessive enthusiasm to periods of neglect”.

Both sides now wanted to avoid this and take the relationship to a more stable footing and on an even keel, he added.

Mr Olson also recognised “a strategic shift” in and “re-orientation” of Pakistan’s policies towards Afghanistan and India.

“That’s something quite important and we want to continue to encourage that,” he said.

The US ambassador also emphasised the need to “flesh the slogan of trade, not just aid,” while rebuilding the relationship between the two countries.

Responding to a question about India, Pakistan relations, the ambassador said: “We’re on the cusp of Pakistan granting most favoured nation status to India.”

Mr Olson noted that ordinary Pakistanis also wanted better relations with India.

“My sense is that most Pakistanis are actually very much in favour of an enhanced economic relationship with India,” he added.

Responding to another question on the region’s energy needs, the US ambassador said: “What we would like to see is for the energy supply to run through Afghanistan and through Pakistan to the Indian market.”

But he reiterated the US administration’s position that the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is sanctionable under the Iran Act.

“We’ve had a duty to warn our Pakistani friends that the pipeline that’s under consideration is likely to be sanctionable under US law.

One thing is that Iran has proved to be a less than reliable partner on many such energy projects with other countries,” he claimed.

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