US envoy insists on immediate release of Davis
ISLAMABAD: The United States made it clear to Pakistani authorities in talks here on Monday that it wanted immediate release of jailed CIA operative Raymond Davis and that there would be no business as usual until the matter was resolved, even though Washington desperately needed Islamabad’s help for a negotiated settlement of the Afghan war.
“I think, I’m confident that we can resolve this (Davis) problem and once we do we can get back to business … we can build the relationship between the United States and Pakistan,” US Special Representative Marc Grossman said at a meeting with a group of journalists.
Ambassador Grossman’s first visit to Islamabad after assuming the role of the regional envoy was being widely tipped as ‘a relationship repair trip’, but it threw up more questions than answers about the direction of bilateral relations.
Even as Mr Grossman said both countries sought a mutually beneficial relationship that could enable Pakistan to become stable, democratic and prosperous by freeing itself from extremist violence, he stressed that the real challenge in this
association was to determine what constituted ‘the mutual interest’, which could provide the basis for enduring ties.
He said his discussion with Pakistani interlocutors on bilateral assistance, US focus on Pakistan’s security and shared efforts on Afghanistan “underscores … the central point and that is the relationship is based on mutual interest and the challenge
obviously is to find that mutual interest, we have to identify that and we are clearly on that”.
The mutual interest appears to have been lost in the row over immunity for Davis, hence the visiting envoy during his about 30-minute media interaction repeatedly insisted on his immediate release.
The special envoy called for getting the Davis ‘irritant’ out of the relationship and reminded the Pakistani leadership that both countries “are best served when we stand together”.
Further emphasising on the importance of Islamabad and Washington working in consonance, Mr Grossman noted that it was crucial for restoring peace in Afghanistan through a negotiated solution and ensuring stability in the region.
Speaking about Afghanistan, he called for Pakistani support for the Afghan-led reconciliation process, but
one that joined “both the US and Pakistan” — in a clear indication that Islamabad should not push for groups like Haqqani network that weren’t acceptable to Washington.
In his meeting with Pakistani leaders, the envoy said he noted the nexus between insurgency in Afghanistan and safe havens of terrorists and their enablers in Pakistan’s tribal areas and demanded eradication of those sanctuaries.
“The (Afghan reconciliation) process relies on Pakistan taking decisive action” against the Taliban running insurgency from Pakistani territory, he stressed.
Earlier, Prime Minister Gilani in his meeting with Mr Grossman asked for continuity of Strategic Dialogue, whose next round was expected in March/April, but no dates have yet been finalised because of the ongoing diplomatic spat over Davis.
“The prime minister underlined the need for validation of the utility and efficacy of Pakistan-United States partnership by steadfastly proceeding with the Strategic Dialogue. He also underscored the importance that friends must share views candidly to deepen mutual understanding and isolated issues must not be allowed to impact bilateral relations,” a statement issued by Mr Gilani’s office said.
Similar message was delivered by Mr Zardari in his meeting. “President Asif Ali Zardari has reiterated his call for Pakistan and the United States to remain focused on the path of pursuing long-term, multifaceted and durable strategic ties for the realisation of shared objectives than to be swayed by misperceptions and some isolated incidents,” a statement by the presidency on the meeting said.