U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue started on Wednesday
with President Obama welcoming the Pakistani officials including Foreign
Ministers Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani. The
meeting is scheduled to end on Friday with a plenary session led by Qureshi and
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The topics to be discussed in the next few
days range from water and energy to women empowerment, but the main discussion
will revolve around the joint effort against terrorism on the
Pakistan-Afghanistan border. President Obama stressed on the necessity of developing
a true partnership based on mutual trust.
The strategic dialogue consists of 13 working groups, 4 of which met on Wednesday. The remaining 9 groups are scheduled to meet over the next two days.
While addressing the audience at the Brookings Institution, Qureshi made it clear that Pakistan was upset about the kind of miscommunication between the two countries that led to the cross border drone attack and subsequent death of two Pakistani soldiers. This had soured the relations between them as Pakistan interpreted this as an attack on their sovereignty and led to the closure of the Khyber Pass for 10 days. Defense experts feel that this is a good forum to clear the air of any ill feelings that persist so that both the countries could move forward in their war against the Islamist insurgents. In a meeting with the national security team prior to meeting the Pakistani officials, President Obama was informed about the need to increase pressure on smoking out the extremists hiding within ‘safe havens’ in Pakistan.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates apologized for the death of the Pakistani border guards caused by U.S. led forces before they sat down to discuss long term security aid for Islamabad and for the recent floods that swamped a large area in Pakistan.
The most important aim of the dialogue was to make sure that the goals and strategies in the war against terrorism remain same and that the public are aware of this fact.