Pakistan-US ties set to top envoys’ meeting in Pakistan

December 12th, 2011 - 3:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Islamabad, Dec 12 (IANS) A two-day conference of Pakistani envoys opened in Islamabad Monday to deliberate on “different aspects” of the country’s foreign policy with special focus on reviewing the relationship with the US and NATO, the foreign ministry said.

The conference has assumed importance as Pakistani leaders have decided to review the country’s relationship with the US and its Western allies in the wake of the Nov 26 NATO attack on Pakistani border posts that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

“We are reviewing the terms of engagement with NATO and the US,” foreign ministry spokesperson Abdul Basit said ahead of the conference.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar presided over the conference and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha briefed the participants about the NATO strikes, Xinhua reported.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has already set the tone for the review of ties with the US by saying that the relationship will not be like in the past.

Ambassadors and High Commissioners posted in key capitals are participating in the conference and will “deliberate on different aspects of Pakistan’s foreign policy”, the spokesperson said.

The conference was called after the US-led NATO fighter jets and helicopters carried out what Pakistani leaders viewed as an intentional attack on two border posts in the country’s Mohmand tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Islamabad angrily reacted to the attack as the military leadership said the NATO aircraft violated the “Red Lines” clearly defined to the US/NATO and ISAF forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan military said that NATO had carried out eight strikes on Pakistani posts in three years, killing 72 soldiers and injuring hundreds of others.

Pakistan’s military leadership rejected regrets from the US and NATO leaders and the civilian leaders preferred to review the future relationship with the US and NATO.

Pakistan also closed the supply lines for NATO in Afghanistan and Gilani said Sunday these will remain shut for some more weeks.

Islamabad also ordered the US to vacate a strategically important Shamsi airbase in Balochistan province.

Foreign Minister Khar said that recommendations of the envoys’ conference will be sent to parliament for final approval. She said Pakistan will chalk out a foreign policy to “protect our national sovereignty, territorial integrity” and to “align it strictly with Pakistan’s requirements for peace and development”.

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