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Raises issue of Dr Shakil Afridi in talks with Pak leaders
 
 
Mariana Baabar
Sunday, September 16, 2012
From Print Edition
 
 

 

ISLAMABAD: The United States once again rejected the content and message of the controversial video circulating on the internet, saying that America’s ‘commitment’ to

 

religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of its nation. As worldwide protests against this film are gaining momentum, Ambassador Marc Grossman, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, reaffirmed, “that the United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message”.

 

During the visit to Pakistan, where he held meetings with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Foreign Secretary Jaleel Abbas Jilani, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, members of parliament and other government officials, Grossman commented, “America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. And as you know, we are home to people of all religions, many of whom have come to this country seeking the right to exercise their own religion, including, of course, millions of Muslims. And we have the greatest respect for people of faith. This video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage.”

 

In a statement from the US Embassy, the spokesman added that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also said, “There is no justification, none at all, for responding to this video with violence. The United States condemns the violence in the strongest terms and greatly appreciates that many Muslims in the United States and around the world have spoken out on this issue.”

 

In difficult times like these, the United States, Grossman added, relied on its partnership with the government and people of Pakistan to ensure that divisive actions by individuals did not harm the safety of Pakistanis and Americans alike.

 

Meanwhile, Grossman said that the United States looked forward to welcoming Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Washington and President Asif Ali Zardari to New York for the UN General Assembly, and looked forward to several bilateral working groups this fall.

 

He called for a relationship with Pakistan that should be “enduring, strategic, and clearly defined. The United States and Pakistan should work together to identify shared interests and act on them jointly, for the benefit of both the nations and the region”.

 

The United States was committed to building on recent achievements, such as the reopening of the Nato supply lines and the meeting of the Safe Passage Working Group held in Islamabad on Sept 5, he said.

 

Ambassador Grossman emphasized saying,”While none of those are simple tasks, and will require vision, cooperation, and hard work, the United States is committed to its relationship with Pakistan, to continued engagement, and to building on joint successes”.

 

Grossman noted that each of these engagements was an opportunity to continue to identify shared interests and to discuss concrete actions the United States and Pakistan could take together on the broad agenda. “The United States is committed to continuing work on shared counterterrorism objectives; to increasing market access and economic opportunity for Pakistan; and to supporting civilian democracy and civil society,” US special envoy said.

 

Grossman also raised the case of Dr Shakil Afridi.

 

“Finally, it is important that the United States and Pakistan cooperate closely to ensure that Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the region are more secure, stable, and prosperous”, he added.