Pak-US to conclude pact that will spell out areas of co-op

Islamabad: Pakistan and the US are likely to conclude an agreement that will spell out areas of cooperation and their "respective limitations" in order to remove ambiguities in their fragile relationship, according to a media report today.

The understanding on the agreement was reached as part of a "package deal" that paved the way for Pakistan to reopen supply routes for US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan, The Express Tribune quoted unnamed officials as saying.

Talks on the proposed agreement will begin soon with an exchange of high-level visits, an official said.

Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Zahir-ul-Islam will travel to Washington soon to discuss and identify areas of cooperation in the intelligence field.

This will be Islam`s first trip to the US since he took charge of the ISI in March. He was scheduled to travel to the US in May but had to delay his due to the lingering stalemate between the two countries. "Now that the standoff is over, the DG ISI will soon visit the US," a security official said.

Another Pakistani official familiar with the development told the daily that the US was initially reluctant to negotiate such an accord since existing "vague" arrangements served its purpose.
However, Pakistan managed to convince the US on the issue during intense discussions aimed at breaking the blockade of the NATO supply lines, the official said.

Pakistan shut the supply lines after a cross-border NATO air strike killed 24 of its soldiers in November. The routes were reopened after the US apologised for the attack.

During recent negotiations, Pakistani interlocutors informed their American counterparts that the NATO attack would not have occurred had there been a written accord between the two sides, the report said.

Incidents like the air strike "had been taking place for years and the reason was a lack of a written agreement", an unnamed official said. "It was important that we put an end to this practice and it is only possible if we have a clear agreement with the US," the official added.

He said the new agreement will outline "each and every aspect" of the Pakistan-US relationship.
"We don`t want to leave any ambiguity in our relationship with the US," he said.

Another official said the seven-month blockade of the supply routes had provided both sides an opportunity to narrow their differences on many other issues.

The official said the two sides had exchanged non-papers identifying each other`s limitations during negotiations between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar in New York in September. But this process stopped due to the diplomatic standoff over the NATO air strike.