News / Asia

Olson: US-Pakistan Relations Still Challenging, Improving

FILE - Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson.
FILE - Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson.
Ayaz Gul
U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson has been Washington's top diplomat in Islamabad since late 2012, at a time when the two countries have focused on repairing their often strained relationship. He expressed concerns over Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, the situation in Afghanistan and the fight against militant groups in Pakistan's tribal regions.
Relations between the United States and Pakistan have been turbulent especially since the beginning of 2011 when a secret U.S. military raid located and killed Osma bin Laden deep inside Pakistani territory.
Ties were plunged to historic lows a few months later when a NATO airstrike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border.  But Ambassador Olson said both countries have since emerged from that difficult phase.
"I think that the relationship has been on a much more positive trajectory since that time and particularly over the last eight months. Both sides recognized that we have more in common than we had that diverge between our two countries and that we would work on the bases of common interests and on the bases of mutual respect to move the relationship forward," stated Olson.
A key issue between the two sides remains the militant groups based in Pakistan’s tribal areas along the Afghan border. U.S. drone strikes on the groups draw the ire of the Pakistani government, and the public.
In the past, the United States has pressed Pakistan to more aggressively crack down on the militants. Ambassador Olson praised Pakistan's role in the war against terrorism but said the presence of militant groups like the Haqqani network on Pakistani soil remains a matter of concern for Washington.
He avoided direct comment on efforts by Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to try to engage in peace talks with outlawed organizations like the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.  
"Our policy and what we favor is that the Pakistan government extending its writ to through all of its territory whatever means are chosen, whatever methods are chosen that is up to the government of Pakistan," said Olson.
Some critics foresee trouble in Pakistan-U.S. relations after the American military mission ends in Afghanistan because of long-running concerns in Washington over the security of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.
Reports in American media recently have suggested the United States is seeking bases in Afghanistan past 2014 to ensure it can quickly mobilize forces to prevent Pakistani nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of Islamist militants. 

Ambassador Olson dismissed those reports.  "I think what is really important here is to refer back to what President Obama said after the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which is that we have confidence in Pakistan's nuclear safeguards and its responsible position as a nuclear weapons state and that has not changed and that does not change with a few anonymously sourced comments that may appear in the press," he said.

Olson said that the United States has recently expanded its cooperation with Pakistan particularly in the energy sector to help the country overcome critical power shortages. He says the U.S. assistance has enabled power generation facilities to add 1000 megawatts of badly-needed electricity to Pakistan’s national grid.

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Comment Sorting
by: Zhang from: Xi Fang
February 17, 2014 3:03 AM
Poor Yankees, Pakistan and China will easily crush Indians, Americans and even Israelis if really must be war, but peaceful countries do not want , only do if forced to

by: Ali from: Islamabad
February 04, 2014 4:00 AM
Pakistan cast its lost as an ally during the long decades of the cold war, and helped to push the soviets occupiers out of Afghanistan during 1990s. The sheer volume of negative media attention would lead any attentive reader to believe that Pakistan-U.S. relations are headed toward a severe may be violent, rupture. This is a long-term alliance, one that works for both of us. The approach of clear, direct, and transparent clarification of expectations is a good formula for surviving the difficult period ahead of us.

by: a c d Sabin from: Pakistan
February 03, 2014 9:45 AM
the statement of us ambassader for Pakistan is not buying any Pakistani. America was neither friend of Pakistan in the past nor will it be our friend in the future. they are our enemy number one second and third is Israel and India. Know thy enemy Pakistanis.

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