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Pak top leadership seeks to reset ties with US

Islamabad: Pakistan`s top leadership on Thursday sought a reset of the relations with the US, saying they "should go beyond terrorism" and be based on clearly defined and mutually agreed terms of engagement to prevent "operational irritants".

The need to revamp Pakistan-US ties was raised by both President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in separate meetings with visiting US Special Representative Marc Grossman. The American envoy arrived in Islamabad for talks with the civil and military leadership aimed at easing tensions in bilateral relations and charting a way forward in war-torn Afghanistan.

Zardari told Grossman that Pakistan-US ties "must not be transactional but based on long-term partnership and resting on the foundations of mutual respect and shared interests".
In an apparent reference to US criticism of Pakistan`s role in the war on terror, Zardari said "any public messaging that tended to undermine this bedrock of relationship shrank political space" for Pakistan?s government.

The two sides should follow "clearly defined, well documented and mutually agreed terms of engagement" to avoid "operational irritants", Zardari said. He called for "mutual restraints in public pronouncements" that adversely impact the relationship. A cooperative and joint roadmap is needed to overcome the trust deficit, he added.

During his meeting with Grossman, Gilani responded to calls from the top American leadership for Pakistan to do more in the war against terrorism by saying his government is committed to fight "extremism and terrorism in their totality". 

US-Pakistan relations have been strained since the May 2 raid by American special forces that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad. The ties were further affected after senior US officials, including President Barack Obama, called for Pakistan?s Inter-Services Intelligence, to sever its links with militant groups like the Haqqani network.

Grossman`s arrival in Islamabad coincided with two US drone strikes in the lawless Waziristan tribal region that killed seven suspected militants, including a senior commander of the Haqqani network.

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