Kerry visits Pakistan, agrees to restart Strategic Dialogue



  • US secretary of state calls on Nawaz, COAS, Aziz and Imran Khan
  • Says drone issue can be taken up with US president
  • Aafia Siddiqui’s case not taken up during meetings
  • Welcomes softening relations between Pakistan and India



Pakistan and the US on Thursday agreed in principle to resume the much-awaited Strategic Dialogue process when visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington US wanted to foster “deeper, broader and more comprehensive partnership” with Pakistan after a two-year period that saw relations stumble from a crisis to another.

The dialogue was launched during high-level talks on a wide swath of security and development programmes in 2010. But the talks stalled in November 2011 after a US airstrike on a Pakistani post In Salala killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

”I’m pleased to announce that today, very quickly, we were able to agree to a resumption of the strategic dialogue in order to foster a deeper, broader and more comprehensive partnership between our countries,” Kerry told reporters following his meetings with the country’s top leaders.

John Kerry held one-on-one and delegation-level meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani and PTI chief Imran Khan.

Later, both Kerry and Aziz spoke to the media and described the meetings as “positive and constructive”.

Prime Minister Nawaz along with his team also discussed the whole range of bilateral issues with Kerry and his delegation including trade and economic relationship, expanding relations in health, education and energy sectors and the negative impact of drone strikes.

Per government sources, Sartaj sought US sanctions’ waiver on Iran-Pakistan (IP) gasline, telling Kerry that Pakistan was not in a position to pay heavy damages and also it did not want getting its decades-old ties with Iran soured.

He asked Kerry to play his role to get favour for Pakistan on the lines the US had granted concessions to Turkey and some other states for trading with Iran.

“Kerry told Aziz he was not in a position to give any assurance, but promised he would take up the matter with President Barack Obama,” sources added.


Pakistan also raised its concerns over drone attacks which violated its sovereignty, but was told by the visiting US secretary of state that the US had a declared policy to take action against its enemies wherever they might be found.

He also refused to give any assurance on halting drone attacks, telling Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that the drones had already been limited to top terrorists, who he said were also violating Pakistani sovereignty including top wanted man by US Aimanuz Zawahiri.

Kerry also told the prime minister that the drones matter could be taken up with US President Obama during his upcoming trip, for which he also extended formal invitation to Sharif.

Kerry’s talk hinted that the US thought Zawahiri was operating from Pakistan – a very dangerous hint indeed. This means the US must have some information about Zawahiri’s presence. Earlier, prior to Abbottabad operation, a similar hint was dropped by then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Osama bin Laden was later killed in a raid in Abbottabad.

Addressing a joint press briefing at the PM House, Kerry and Aziz told reporters that the strategic dialogue would be resumed and focus on border management, counter terrorism and Pakistan’s economic revival.

Kerry also hinted at the differences between the two allies on a host of issues, stating that Pakistan-US relationship was not defined by threats it faced. “It’s is not just about counter-terrorism, but about economic revival of Pakistan,” he said.

He emphasised that the Pakistan-US relationship was strong enough to withstand any threat from the extremists.

Kerry said the US endorsed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s vision and his agenda of reforms, adding he unequivocally believed that Prime Minister Nawaz desired building of their relationship.

He said a new investment fund between the two countries had also been launched for enhancing trade and promoting trade between the two countries.

Sartaj Azizi said only three sessions on the Strategic Dialogue were held in 2010 and the next ministerial-level meeting between the two sides would be held within six months.

Kerry said five committees on different areas would be meeting soon to revive the relationship and to turn it into a full relationship between Pakistan and the United States of America.

Aziz hoped that the bilateral trade between the two countries would double to $11 billion in the years ahead. He said the United States of America would help Pakistani products get greater access to US markets and appreciated US assistance to Pakistan for Diamer Bhasha dam.


Senator Kerry also told reporters that the US was not withdrawing its forces from war-torn Afghanistan, rather the US was going for a drawdown of forces.

Aziz assured Kerry of Pakistan’s full support to the US for its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Regarding the Doha peace process, Secretary Kerry said Pakistan was supportive of the process and the fate of Pakistan and Afghanistan were “intertwined” and both the countries needed to undertake united efforts to resolve the issue of safe havens.

The US wants Pakistan to pressure leaders of the Afghan Taliban to negotiate with Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government, renounce violence and sever ties with al Qaeda. Pakistani officials say they do not control the Taliban, but Karzai’s government isn’t convinced.

Kerry said a peaceful Afghanistan was in the interest of not only Pakistan, but also for the entire region. He said Pakistan needed to overcome the extremist threats from within.

Kerry also welcomed the steps taken between Pakistan and India for building an economic relationship and said if both the countries could invest in each other, the rest of the world would also invest in both states.

About Dr Aafia Siddiqi and exchange of prisoners, he said the matter was not taken up.

Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan had lodged a strong protest regarding drone attacks which were against the country’s sovereignty. Kerry said US President Barack Obama’s policy regarding drones was clear and dialogue over the attacks continued with Pakistan.

Kerry-Imran Meeting:

PTI Chairman Imran Khan also held a one-on-one meeting with Secretary Kerry. Khan, according to PTI sources, put forward his party’s viewpoint on drones, the US war on terror and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“Khan reiterated his stance that drones were a violation of international law and counterproductive as they cause collateral damage in terms of increasing terrorism; and they (extremists) link Pakistan to the US war on terror. This in turn allows the terrorists to exploit the narrative of jihad and creates the suicide bombers with their devastating suicide attacks,” a PTI official said.

Khan told Kerry that in order to stop suicide attacks, “we would have to take away the motivation from extremists and this could only happen through a complete halt of US drone strikes”.

The PTI chief stressed that Pakistan had to de-link from the US war on terror to deprive the terrorists of their exploitation of the narrative of jihad.

Khan said that once the terrorists were deprived of the jihad narrative, the people of FATA would themselves reclaim their land.

On the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Khan informed Kerry that unless the withdrawal was orderly, Pakistan would have to bear the brunt of the mess left behind, as happened with the chaotic Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“That is why all stakeholders must be taken on board so that a peaceful withdrawal can be achieved”.

When Kerry asked about the issues faced by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, Khan explained how the province had to bear the major backlash of what happened in FATA, as it is surrounded on three sides by the Tribal Areas.

Khan admitted that the provincial police was ill-equipped to fight terrorists, especially without a holistic national counterterrorism policy.

He said he had initiated a request for the government to immediately develop a national counterterrorism policy and organisational framework, but nothing had come from the government’s side so far.



  1. Why Pakistan is harping on Drones(when it is the single most effective weapon which has terrorised the Terrorists? Hope Mr. Imran Khan khan will explain how the FATA tribals will reclaim their own land after drones are stopped?
    What about trade? What about export from Pakistan? What abput electricity shortage? What about help in Dams?
    The agenda seems to be weighed in favour of US national interest.

  2. That story does not hold water. for one terrorist, one hundred innocent civilians have been killed by drones. Also, allowing a foreign country to violate our air space and fly drones in is a dangerous invitation to other countries. Tomorrow India could do the same using the excuse, they are attacking Kashmiri infiltrators, then what excuse will Pakisan have to stop India?

  3. We have to keep in mind that our shared interests in the region laid the base for our partnership. Our common stance against terrorism has allowed us to overcome many obstacles and challenges in our decade long partnership. We’ve been able to catch some of the top terrorist leaders through mutual cooperation. At the moment, we’re focused on building on our improving relationship. We do not gain anything by indulging in our past differences, and simply shift the advantage in our enemies favor. We’ve said this before and say it again: We would like to see the regional partners working together for the betterment of the region. Let’s review what Secretary of State John Kerry said: “I’m pleased to announce that today, very quickly, we were able to agree to a resumption of the strategic dialogue in order to foster a deeper, broader and more comprehensive partnership between our countries. The Pakistan-US relationship is not defined by the threats we face and is not just about counter-terrorism.” His statements clearly emphasize the importance of maintaining a long term healthy working relationship. There is no reason for us to be pessimistic in regards to the future of our relationship. We simply hope to continue our partnership, and hope to address any shared concerns through these meetings.

    Ali Khan
    DET, United States Central Command


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