By Ali Imran
WASHINGTON, March 12 : Acknowledging Pakistan’s vital contribution as counterterrorism partner, U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said the two countries have moved past recent crisis in the bilateral ties and are now forging cooperation on shared goals including stability in Afghanistan.
Speaking at Asia Society in New York, President Barack Obama’s top adviser also looked forward to watching a “milestone” happening in Pakistan with strengthening of democracy from the the upcoming general elections.
“We have had with Pakistan a very important partnership in the counterterrorism area. And indeed the Pakistanis have suffered thousands of casualties in the battle against extremists,” he stated.
“They have been an important partner of the United States in our effort against the most extreme elements,” Donilon, who has long been an influential figure in the Obama Administration.
At the same time, he made note of difficulties that marred the ties for about 18 months between 2011 and mid-2012.
“We have had difficult issues between the US and Pakistan. And indeed we had a long period of time when it felt like our relationship always had a crisis. We obviously had a difficult time after we executed successfully the Abbottabad raid against Osama bin Laden in May 2011 and there was a reaction.”
Donilon also referred to Pakistan’s ban on crucial ground lines of communications to Afghanistan after the “terrible” cross border incident in November 2011, which claimed lives of two dozen Pakistani soldiers .
“We have worked through these issues. I think, actually are now at a point where we re having broader conversations without the overlay of some crisis, and talking about kind of more fundamental strategic interests that we have in common.”
“We have had, as you might imagine, as has been clear, some difficult issues, but I do think we re at a point here where we don t have a crisis hanging over the relationship. We continue to work intensively with the Pakistanis on the kinds of issues, and we’ll continue to do so”, Donilon added.
The US national security adviser stressed to the gathering of experts that Washington and Islamabad have common goals in terms of Afghan stability as the United States proceeds with the 2014 drawdown from the landlocked country on Pakistan’s western border.
“We both have in common a stable Afghanistan at the end of this process and we are working together on that. “We both have in common the fight against extremist elements, and we continue to work on that.”