By Ali Imran
WASHINGTON, Aug 29: Acknowledging the importance of US-Pakistan relations in the years ahead, the Republicans have pledged to work for revival of “historic” partnership between the two countries as they outlined the party’s manifesto along with nomination of Mitt Romney as presidential candidate for this year’s election.
Romney, a former Massachusetts Governor and business tycoon, will fight the November 6 election against Democratic President Barack Obama in what is being billed as a dead heat, with flagging economic issues topping the agenda for American voters.
In adopting a collection of wide-ranging policy guidelines and priorities , called platform, at the ongoing Republican Convention in Tampa, Florida, the party took cognizance of the pressures Pakistan has gone through because of the lingering US-led war against militants in the neighboring Afghanistan.
“The aftermath of the last decade’s conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan has put enormous pressure on the political and military infrastructure of Pakistan, which faces both internal terrorism and external dangers,” the platform said.
The statement significantly takes notice of the internal and external challenges facing Pakistan, which has traditionally been American’s closest ally in South Asia but in the last decade their bilateral relations have suffered due to Afghan war controversies and repeated violations of Pakistani territory by unilateral American anti-militant actions.
The Republican party’s line represents its commitment to repair the strained ties between the two countries.
“The working relationship between our two countries is a necessary, though sometimes difficult, benefit to both, and we look toward the renewal of historic ties that have frayed under the weight of international conflict,” the platform noted in reference to differences that lately have affected the ties.
At the same time, the GOP leadership said the US should “expect the Pakistan government to sever any connection between its security and intelligence forces and the insurgents..”
“No Pakistani citizen should be punished for helping the United States against the terrorists,” it also noted in an apparent reference to Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor, who worked for CIA in hunt for al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, who was later killed in an American raid on his Abbottabad hideout.
The Convention took issue with the White House decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, calling it contrary to the advice of American military commanders.
“The imminent withdrawal from Afghanistan of the 30,000 “surge” troops sent there two years ago comes weeks before this year’s presidential election and against the advice of the current President’s top military commanders.”
Future decisions by a Republican President will never subordinate military necessity to domestic politics or an artificial timetable, the Grand Old Party, which has a strong conservative base, said.
“Afghans, Pakistanis, and Americans have a common interest in ridding the region of the Taliban and other insurgent groups, but we cannot expect others to remain resolute unless we show the same determination ourselves.”
Stressing the need for improvement within Afghanistan, the platform also highlights the need for internal reforms in the landlocked country on Pakistan’s western border.
“We will expect the Afghan government to crackdown on corruption, respect free elections, and assist our fight against the narcotic trade that fuels the insurgency.”
While broadly laying out contours of the foreign policy towards South Asia, the Republican document welcomes a stronger relationship with India but also asked New Delhi to be open to foreign investment and trade ties.
“We welcome a stronger relationship with the world’s largest democracy, India, both economic and cultural, as well as in terms of national security. We hereby affirm and declare that India is our geopolitical ally and a strategic trading partner. We encourage India to permit greater foreign investment and trade.”
- Pakistan, Afghanistan, US discuss safe passage for Taliban leaders to join peace talks (vancouversun.com)
- Afghan-Pakistani team to probe border shelling: Kabul (dawn.com)
- US drone strike kills 5 militants in Pakistan (newsday.com)
- America and India: Growing Partners in Afghanistan (thediplomat.com)