Jan 28, 2014, 4:12 PM
News Code: 2626711
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Pakistan-US strategic dialogue resumes amid tensions

Islamabad, Jan 28, IRNA -- Pakistan and the United States have revived their strategic dialogue despite angry anti-American sentiments in Pakistan, particularly on the issue of the American covert drone campaign.

Both countries have attached hopes to the meeting however independent observers do not expect much in view of the mistrust.

A relationship spanning over 65 years, both partners have sustained it, sometimes happily, other times not so happily.

The last session of the strategic dialogue was held in 2010 and the process was later stopped due to tensions over the unilateral U.S. military raid that had killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad.

The Pakistan-U.S. ministerial level dialogue was revived in August 2013 during U.S.Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Pakistan. That was the first high level contact since the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assumed power following the May parliamentary elections.

The anti American sentiment is on the rise in Pakistan. The CIA-controlled drone mission still haunts Pakistan-U.S. ties as Washington is in no mood to address Islamabad's serious concerns over violations of its territorial integrity by the American spy aircraft which enter Pakistani airspace and fire missiles at will.

Majority in Pakistan believes that the United States always serves its own interests even in dealing with its close allies.

Pakistanis still suffer from the impact of the situation in Afghanistan. People in Pakistan are unanimous in rejecting aids which could compromise the country's independence and sovereignty.

Speaking at the opening of US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, Pakistani Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said despite the heavy toll that we have suffered, Pakistan is ready to help in every way in supporting peace and stability in Afghanistan. However, Aziz added that in this it hopes that Pakistan’s security concerns are comprehensively addressed.

Last year a major political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had blocked the NATO supplies as the federal government failed to pursue the US to end drone strikes that sabotage peace talks.

Pakistan Interior Minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, has also told the parliament that contacts with the Taliban insurgents had been in advanced stage but an American drone attack which killed the Taliban chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, in November derailed the process.

The recent U.S. decision to withhold 300 million dollars aid unless Pakistan frees a doctor who had helped the CIA reaches Osama bin Laden is also disturbing the bilateral relationship.

Pakistan had angrily reacted to the decision and described it as against the spirit of bilateral cooperation.

Dr. Shakeel Afridi’s action was widely believed in Pakistan as an “act of treason," he was seen as a hero in the United States for his role in the killing of bin Laden. His action has also been cited as a serious setback for the anti-polio campaign in Pakistan as the Taliban banned the vaccination in Waziristan tribal region on the notion that the campaign could be used for espionage.

The U.S. demanded the release of a Pakistani national but has itself rejected repeated calls from Pakistani leaders to free an ailing Pakistani lady doctor, Aafia Siddiqui, who had been meted nearly 80 years jail term for allegedly firing on U.S. soldiers.

The experts say the negotiations should not be wastage of time, it should result in meaningful developments and deep ties so that bilateral relation could enter a new era.

Observers say that Pakistan's political leadership should forcefully take up issues of national interests with the United States at every forum since Pakistan is a sovereign state and not a vassal of the United States.