Durrani Expects No ‘Dhamakas’ in Pak-US Relations

Washington, DC: Ambassador Mahmud Ali Durrani expects no “dhamakas” (explosions) for Pakistan when the new Democrat-dominated Congress takes office next year.
He told Pakistani journalists on Monday that there will be no impact on Pakistan of the change, nor will it make any “dramatic difference” to US-Pakistan relations. He pointed out that President George Bush will still be in office for another two years, implying that his policy towards Pakistan is not going to change. He added that the mid-term election results did not necessarily mean that the results of the presidential election would be along the same lines.
Durrani said Pakistan enjoys bipartisan support in Congress and he expects that to continue. He was also confident that the Iraq Group report presented to President Bush will have “no direct bearing” on Pakistan. He said in answer to a question that the United States wants next year’s elections in Pakistan to be “free and fair”.
To a question about Afghanistan, he said that Pakistan is doing more than its share and it is for others to do the same, principally the government in Kabul. He said jirgas will have to be convened on both sides of the border before a grand jirga can materialize. He indicated the presence of certain “roadblocks” in the convening of the grand jirga.
Asked to comment on a report in the New York Times which said the Waziristan peace deal had allowed the Taliban safe havens in Pakistan to regroup, Durrani said the contents of the report were “incorrect”. He said Pakistan had established a number of posts on its side of the border to check illegal border-crossing and emphasized that it was a joint responsibility.
He said the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan was not confined to just one place in Afghanistan opposite the border with North Waziristan, but was going on in other Afghan provinces as well. “To say that everything going wrong (in Afghanistan) is because of the peace agreement is totally incorrect and unfair,” he added.
He cited a recent report by the International Security Assistance Force which noted a “significant drop” in cross-border violations during the last two months. He also referred to a recent UN report and US media reports which identify the causes of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and stress that the country needs to improve governance and address the drugs trade, training of police and corruption.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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