Pak-US accord on future ties a possibility during Khar’s US tour


Pakistan and United States are working on the finalization of ‘formal agreement’ on future ties and both key states in the anti-terrorism global campaign are likely to conclude the pact during the four-day visit to Washington by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar that begins on September 18.
The ‘written agreement’ between Islamabad and Washington will cover various aspects of counter-terrorism cooperation, including intelligence sharing, coordinated actions by the American and Pakistani security forces on both sides of Afghan border and extension of logistic support to the US by Pakistan.
The two sides are also trying to iron out differences on the contentious issue of drone strikes in the Tribal Areas and if they are able to do that, any resultant understanding could also be made part of the formal written agreement on future cooperation between Islamabad and Washington.
According to sources privy to Pakistan-US consultations on formal agreement on future cooperation, Washington was trying to impress upon Islamabad for the re-deployment of some of American defense contractors and CIA operatives on its soil, but Pakistani authorities were unwilling to oblige the Obama administration on this count.
“Regardless of their differences on certain key issues, both the sides have been working on the formal agreement on cooperation in areas which are workable for quite long now, as they were discussing the matter even before the blockade of NATO supplies to Afghanistan by Islamabad in November last year and now that the supplies have been restored, the work on written accord has been also been resumed,” said a diplomatic source, seeking anonymity.
He said during the visit of Special US Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman to Islamabad, both sides also exchanged some ‘non-papers’ on the formal accord.
Foreign Minister Khar, who is scheduled to pay a four-day visit to the US from 18th, would meet her American counterpart on September 21, during which it is likely that the written agreement on future cooperation is finalized.
A Washington-based Pakistani diplomat said the formal agreement between Islamabad and Washington, if signed, would help define the relationship between the two states in which shared interests and all other related matters were clearly defined.
“The problem with the past agreements between Islamabad and Washington during the era of former president Pervez Musharraf was that they were not in ‘black and white’ and hence lacked the required clarity,” he said.
He said both sides were trying hard to finalize the accord, but even if it were not finalized during the visit of Foreign Minister Khar, mutual work on the important agreement would continue until it was made acceptable to the two states.