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Strategic talks: All that Pak got was more money!

Last updated on: October 23, 2010 10:39 IST

Strategic talks: All that Pak got was more money!

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Despite managing to get $2.29 billion in fresh military aid, Pakistan failed to extract anything from the US on two key issues of civilian nuclear deal similar to that of India and American intervention in resolving the Kashmir issue.

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton did not respond to a question on Pakistan's quest for a civil nuclear deal on the lines of India, thus clearly indicating that it is not on the radar of the Obama Administration, which has announced a series of civilian and military assistance to Pakistan during the US-Pak Strategic Dialogue.

Similarly, US State Department spokesman P J Crowley clarified for the second successive day that the US has no role to play in the Kashmir issue and both India and Pakistan has to resolve it bilaterally.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, however, asserted that he will not give up and continue to persist on these issues.

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Image: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaks to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a news conference after the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue Plenary Session at the State Department in Washington on October 22
Photographs: Jim Young/Reuters
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"Things we've tried in the past, it hasn't worked. That doesn't mean we give up. We are persistent. And as they say: Perseverance commands success. So I am not giving up," Qureshi said at a joint-press conference with Clinton in the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.

"I can assure you that all issues have been discussed, and it's not just what we talk about here in Washington for two days, but it's what we continue to talk about between meetings, between our experts and our officials," Clinton said when asked about the civilian nuclear deal being sought by Pakistan.

Clinton announced a multi-year security assistance commitment to Pakistan of $2.29 billion under foreign military assistance to be made available for the period from 2012 to 2016.

"That money for military assistance complements the USD 7.5 billion commitments in civilian projects that has already been approved by the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation," she said.


Image: US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates talks to Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Kayani before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speak during the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue Plenary Session
Photographs: Larry Downing/Reuters
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"To build the kind of future that young Pakistanis deserve, people of courage must stand against these extremists. And our two governments are working closely together with governments around the world and millions and millions of people who understand the threat that is posed to eliminate terrorism," she added.

"As we conclude this Third Strategic Dialogue session in seven months, we can see that our intensive consultations, our frank discussions, our focus on cooperation have already yielded an improvement in our bilateral relationship."

"We have made strides on a number of projects that Pakistanis have identified as priorities, such as increasing the vaccination rate for children and saving their lives, researching solutions to the arsenic contamination of drinking water, improving the productivity of wheat and cotton farms," she noted.

People of the US have to understand that America is a beneficiary by investing in Pakistan, Qureshi said, adding Pakistanis have to also understand the country gains internationally and regionally by having the US as an enduring partner.

Both Clinton and Qureshi strongly refuted reports of tensions between the two countries.


Image: Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi delivers remarks at the panel, US and Pakistan: Partners in Development, hosted by Asia Society and Brookings at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, on October 20
Photographs: State Department photo
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"Our relationship is stronger than what is believed to be. I think at the working level, there is a greater understanding. Perhaps it's often misunderstood," he said.

"One thing that is not often reported enough is that the United States has no stronger partner than Pakistan in fighting the mutual threat we face from extremism. And the cooperation is very deep and very broad. But as my friend said, that doesn't mean we will agree on everything.

"I mean, friendship is a two-way street. We both have to work hard to maintain this friendship, and in fact it is something we are committed to doing," Clinton said.

"As Minister Qureshi said, it's a generational commitment. But we are two different countries. We have two different traditions. We have two different histories. That does not mean we're going to agree on everything. But it means, as you do with friends, that you don't jump to conclusions and you don't presume before you've actually had a chance to explain," the US Secretary of State noted.



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Meanwhile, the US and Pakistan resolved to eliminate the threats posed by terrorism and extremism in the region.

A joint-statement, which was issued after the third day of US-Pak Strategic Dialogue, also tried to put to rest all speculations about any fresh military coup in Pakistan.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi led the Pakistani delegation that included six cabinet ministers and Army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.

The American delegation was led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and Special US Representatives for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke were among the delegation.

"The United States and Pakistan emphasized that a democratic, progressive, and prosperous Pakistan was in the interest of the United States, the region, and the world," the joint-statement said.



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"The United States and Pakistan renewed their resolve to promoting peace, stability, and transparency throughout the region and to eliminate the threats posed by terrorism and extremism," it said, adding that both sides remained focused on further deepening their cooperation on a wide range of issues of mutual interest.

During the Pakistani delegation's visit to the White House, US President Barack Obama announced his plans to visit Pakistan in 2011 and welcomed his Pakistan counterpart Asif Ali Zardari to Washington.

"The United States commended the steadfast resolve of the Government and people of Pakistan, armed forces, and law enforcement agencies to defeat terrorists. Pakistan expressed its appreciation for the Secretary's announcement to seek Congressional authorization for a Multi-Year Security Assistance Commitment, a five-year pledge by the United States," the statement said referring to the $2.29 billion aid announced on Friday.



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It was the third Cabinet-level Strategic Dialogue between the two countries in seven months -- the previous two were held on March 24 in Washington and July 15 in Islamabad.

The latest round of the Strategic Dialogue confirmed the US and Pakistan's dedication to cultivating a strategic, comprehensive and long-term partnership, the statement said.

"Qureshi conveyed the sincere gratitude of the people of Pakistan to the Government and people of the United States for the valuable humanitarian assistance given in the wake of the tragic floods and for mobilizing international assistance for relief, recovery and reconstruction. Secretary Clinton commended the tenacity of the Pakistani people as they recover from the catastrophic flooding and pledged constant US support as relief efforts transition into the long-term recovery phase," it said.


Image: Three-year-old Phaphol cries as she sits in her family's tent, with a weather sheet donated by USAID, while taking refuge on an embankment at Chandan Mori village in Dadu in Pakistan's Sindh province
Photographs: Akhtar Soomro/Reuters
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"Clinton and Foreign Minister Qureshi expressed satisfaction on the progress made in the Strategic Dialogue process. Sectoral meetings covered a broad range of subjects with a clear focus on socio-economic development and the establishment of a mutually beneficial partnership", the statement said.

As a culmination of their work over the past seven months, the sectoral working groups compiled action plans that reflect their shared goals and benchmarks, created a roadmap for future engagement, and discussed next steps on implementation of joint-projects in every area, it added.

According to the statement, the US committed to redouble its efforts to seek Congressional enactment of legislation to create Reconstruction Opportunity Zones and for the establishment of an Enterprise Fund.

"Both sides sought to work closely and collaboratively with the international donor community and international financial institutions to extend economic assistance to Pakistan," the statement said.



Image: Members of the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue Communications Working Group interact at the US Department of State in Washington on October 20. Participants included US Department of Agriculture Deputy Under-Secretary Darcy Vetter, USAID Director Alex Their, Pakistani Minister of Agriculture Nazar Muhammad Gondal and Pakistani Secretary of Agriculture Junaid Iqbal Chowdry
Photographs: State Department photo
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