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September 22, 2012

Pakistan seeks no strategic depth in Afghanistan, US told

 
September 22, 2012

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday said Pakistan and the US face a common threat from a common enemy hence both countries need to work on joint counter-terrorism efforts.
Speaking at the State Department before her formal meeting with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, she said both countries are ‘pursuing joint counter terrorism objectives to ensure the security of their citizens’. She said both countries want to identify the strategic goals they can share to combat terrorism.
Both leaders met for a much-awaited bilateral talks on an entire range of subjects. Secretary Clinton said that Pakistan-Afghanistan-US trilateral core group will also meet and continue discussions for a better possibilities to establish peace in the region.
She said such meeting also aim to find economic opportunities, including aid and trade, for Pakistan. She thanked Pakistan for reopening the Nato supply routes.
Clinton added this meeting was a part of a series of high level talks, as she was also looking forward to see President Zardari at the UNGA next week. She said declaring the Haqqani network as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation is a way to use every legal authority against them.
Foreign Minister Khar agreed with the importance and necessity for the talks. She said that both countries went through the most difficult time in the last few months, but came out with a deep understanding for bilateral and strategic dialogues. Khar called it an opportunity to start building trust, and achieve the interests that are common.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Pakistan did not seek any strategic depth in Afghanistan, and favours no group or ethnicity.
Addressing a gathering at the Council on Foreign Relations she outlined the future prospects for the region and said Pakistan’s core national interest is to see a stable, sovereign and independent Afghanistan. “It is not ambition, but anxiety which drives our interests in Afghanistan,” she declared.
Terming the ongoing situation as a leftover of the Afghan war, she repeated the complain that the US empowered the religious groups to drive the Russians out of the region. She made a point that Pakistan cannot relocate itself geographically and thus wants to work for a peaceful neighbourhood. Instead of laying out what Pakistan needs for Afghanistan, she smartly called it: “What we do not want for Afghanistan”.
Instability in Afghanistan permeates through the border directly into Pakistan’s territory, she said. “Allow me to categorically say that we seek on strategic depth in Afghanistan,” she emphasised, adding: “We have no intention nor any national interest to impose any government in Afghanistan”. She further elaborated her point, saying: “What we want from the world is that there’s no security vacuum left behind as we go through an exit”. Pakistan, she said, wants a relation with a stable and peaceful Afghanistan.
Discussing the relationship with the US, she said Pakistan is keen to work together. Pakistani people look for respect, and want to be treated as a sovereign equal, she said, but drones strikes carried out by the US unilaterally makes it harder. “The strikes make it your war and not our war,” she pointed out. “We expect from the US to understand Pakistan’s concerns, priorities and constraints,” she said. The foreign minister said Pakistan is expected to achieve what other countries could not altogether. She also appreciated the help that the US provided to the people of Pakistan in troubled months in the form of Kerry-Lugar-Burman bill and by supporting the democratic process in the country.