DAWN, May 17, 2012
Demand for apology still there: Sherry
WASHINGTON, May 16: The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has sent an unconditional invitation to President Asif Ali Zardari and his participation in the Chicago summit will help promote Pakistanâ€™s key interests, says Ambassador Sherry Rehman.
Ambassador Rehman, who attended two weeks of intense talks between the US and Pakistan in Islamabad before returning to Washington last week, said the Nato summit would be an important milestone in the resolution of a dispute in which PakistanÂ has high stakes.
The May 20-21 summit will be the biggest meeting Nato has ever organised, with around 60 countries and organisations represented, and will consider various options for ending the Afghan war.
Ms Rehman rejected the suggestion that Pakistan had given up its demand for an apology over the Salala incident in return for an invitation to Chicago.
â€œPakistan will continue to press for an apology, and work for best outcomes for our nation,â€ she said. â€œPakistan has made its point, and we will continue to do so. The military will look to fresh border ground rules with Nato and Isaf so incidents like Salala donâ€™t recur.â€
Ambassador Rehman said that Pakistan was constructively engaged with the Americans to resolve the dispute over Nato supply routes to Afghanistan and was looking forward to a positive outcome.
The issue, she noted, required â€œlong overdue political buy inâ€ as well as exhaustive negotiations. â€œPakistan wants to lay the foundation of an engagement that is durable, yet protects our interests as well as addresses Nato and Afghanistanâ€™s concerns.â€
Asked if President Zardari would attend the Nato summit in Chicago, the ambassador said: â€œAn unconditional invitation has been extended to President to participate in Chicago. We welcome the invitation and now that the DCC has endorsed, I look forward to this high-level visit.â€
She hoped that the summit would reach decisions which were pragmatic, practicable, and protect Pakistanâ€™s interests as well as create a viable regional framework.
Ambassador Rehman rejected the suggestion that there was a disconnect between the civilian and military leaderships over the reopening of Nato supply lines. â€œTo the contrary, the civil and military leaderships have acted in complete lockstep on thisÂ matter, consulting with each other repeatedly on key issues,â€ she said.
She noted that the Pakistan-US relationship, despite its challenges, was a very important one but it was also a complex relationship which would â€œprofit from the sunlight of transparency, stability and realistic expectations on both sidesâ€.