US should apologise appropriately:Sherry
DAWN.June 19, 2012
WASHNGTON:Pakistan on Monday emphasised the importance of an â€œappropriateâ€ Americanapology over Salala incident to move forward the relationship as Islamabadâ€™sambassador in Washington Sherry Rehman sought greater appreciation of thePakistani perspective on the fight against terror.
Speakingat a conference on the Captiol Hill, the Pakistani envoy also called forrespect for her countryâ€™s sovereignty and an end to US drone strikes onPakistani territory.
AmbassadorRehman, who referred to both challenges and opportunities in Pakistan-USrelationship, said the two countries are in a â€œcritical phaseâ€ of negotiatingnew terms of engagement and narrowing down their differences.
USCoordinator for non-military assistance for Pakistan Ambassador Robin Raphaelalso spoke at the moot on relations between the two countries.
Inher speech, Ambassador Rehman said that once the two countries surmount currentchallenges in the relationship, they have a lot to gain from a mutuallyproductive and respectful relationship.
Shesaid, had not closed the Nato supply lines into landlocked Afghanistan toâ€œprice-gougeâ€ but after the Salala incident.
â€œThese(ground lines of communication) were closed following the Salala incident andremain closed pending a US apology. The debate on the matter has been wronglycast as a price haggle or price gouging in the US media. This is not the case.â€
â€œWewant our American friends to respect our sovereignty and territorial integrity.This means no drone attacks and no incursions into Pakistani territory,â€ shesaid at a conference organised by the Pakistani-American Congress.
â€œAnappropriate apology for the Salala incident of November 26, 2011 in whichtwenty four Pakistani soldiers were killed in a US air attack is also needed,â€she said.
SherryRehman said she is not highlighting Pakistanâ€™s sacrifices as part of someâ€œvictim narrativeâ€ but reminding the world of the key contributions her countryhas made in fighting terrorism over last several years.
Shesaid a better understanding of Pakistani point of view in the United Statesabout Pakistanâ€™s contributions and sacrifices in fighting extremism would helpthe cause of the relationship.
â€œWehave helped to arrest or neutralise nearly 250 al Qaeda members, provided theUS free use of our highways to transport supplies to Afghanistan. We have lostmore than 37,000 Pakistanis to terrorism. Over five thousand security and lawenforcement personnel have laid down their lives fighting terrorism.â€
Shesaid the two sides are in a critical phase of re-framing our terms ofengagement.
â€œIhope we can narrow our differences and move expeditiously forward. In thecontext of our region, Pakistan and the United States working individually, area lot less effective than the sum of the two working together.â€
Theambassador said that â€œboth the countries need to focus on the positives, try tounderstand each otherâ€™s narratives, show understanding for each otherâ€™spriorities and constraints, and treat each other as sovereign nations engagedas partners in the defining struggle of our times defeating terrorism.â€
â€œWeon the Pakistan side are trying to do so. We urge our friends on the US side tomake a similar commitment. The first step in that direction must be to stay awayfrom coercive diplomacy through the media.â€
ThePakistani envoy reaffirmed Islamabadâ€™s commitment to a stable and peacefulAfghanistan, saying it is in the interests of everyone that Pakistanâ€™s westernneighbor is secure and stable.
Pakistanhas no desire to treat Afghanistan as its strategic backyard, she remarked.
Shehoped that the 2014 withdrawal of international forces Afghanistan would beresponsible and said Pakistanâ€™s anxieties in this respect are rooted in thepast, when it allied with the US-led partners in the fight against Sovietoccupation of its neighbor but the international partners left the region andPakistan to contend with wreckage of the Afghan war.
â€œPakistanis committed to a sovereign Afghan led programme of reconciliation. Whateveradministration, dispensation Afghan chooses it must be Afghan-led, andAfghan-run.â€
Shetold the gathering of diplomats, American experts and Pakistani-Americans, isseeking to roll back tide of extremism that beset the country since itsencounter with Soviet Union on behalf of the United States and otherinternational partners.
Onthe role of the Pakistani Diaspora, the envoy said, they have a very valuablerole to play in helping the two sides bridge the present gap in therelationship.
â€œIam aware that Pakistani organisations, such as the PAC, have played animportant role in mobilising support for Pakistan in the US Congress in thepast. The Brown Amendment is a good example.â€ She said that still betterresults can be achieved.