US to find middle ground on parliament’s recommendations


Senior officials of the US civilian and military administration in Washington have reacted cautiously to the recommendations approved by the parliament on future ties with the United States. The officials, without commenting on the specifics of the demands raised in the Pakistani review process, expressed the intent to engage in discussions with Pakistan on contentious issues to find a middle ground.
George Little, spokesman for Pentagon and the acting assistant secretary of defence for Public Affairs, said that they had seen media reports but were yet to receive the proposals of Pakistan’s parliamentary review formally.
“We are looking forward to receiving these proposals and are ready to discuss the points raised in it with the government of Pakistan,” he observed. When asked about the possibilities of accepting Pakistani demands of apology on NATO air strike last year at Salala check-post and stopping arms and ammunitions supply through Pakistani ground routes, he said “it is hard to speculate what our position will be on each of these recommendations from the Pakistani parliament”. “However, there is a clear willingness on the part of the US administration to engage with Pakistan because we value this relationship,” he assured. When asked if the willingness to engage with Pakistan on contentious issues meant that the US was ready to give-in to some of the Pakistani demands, the Pentagon spokesperson declined to accept the presumption. “I’ll not characterise that our willingness to discuss means that we are ready to accept all Pakistani demands,” he said.
He agreed that the relationship with Pakistan had been tough during the last year or so because of some obvious reasons. “We want to settle down these issues and move forward with Pakistan on areas of our shared interests,” he stated. He was unsure whether Pentagon or State Department would lead the discussions with Pakistan on parliamentary review. “We have to see how and when Pakistan chooses to forward these proposals to us,” he argued. George Little, though, claimed that cooperation with Pakistan was already happening through the US defence attache in Islamabad and at the border security posts on Pak-Afghan border.
“The coordination on Afghanistan-Pakistan border has actually improved after Salala incident. We are determined to make sure that such an incident does not happen again,” he said.
Recalling the recent visit of US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief, Gen James Mattis to Pakistan, he said the US had also sent a rescue team to help in the Siachen avalanche tragedy. “We are prepared to provide further assistance to Pakistan for search and rescue if needed,” he said, adding that these were some indicators of progress in the relationship with Pakistan. He, however, declined to comment on a specific question whether the US was ready to apologise to Pakistan on Salala attack, which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and prompted the review process in Pakistan, as demanded in the parliament’s recommendations. On the other hand, US State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner also ducked the questions about the possibilities of extending an apology to Pakistan. “I can t talk about specific demands of Pakistani parliament about apology on Salala. This is for senior officials on both sides to sit down and discuss,” he opined. “US has engaged with Pakistan at high level in recent weeks and we are ready to discuss these issues with Pakistan,” he said while referring to the points raised in the review.