Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar
Pakistan and the United States have restored full military and intelligence ties after relations hit a low point last year, and Islamabad will take further steps to support a nascent Afghan peace process, Pakistan’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.
Full cooperation between Islamabad and Washington is critical to U.S. efforts to stabilize Afghanistan before most NATO combat troops withdraw by 2014.
“There was a fairly difficult patch and I think we’ve moved away from that into a positive trajectory,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told Reuters in an interview, referring to Pakistani-U.S. relations.
“We are coming closer to developing what could be common positions. We wish to see a responsible transition in Afghanistan.”
Relations between the uneasy allies were severely strained by a series of incidents in 2011. The crisis in ties began when a CIA contractor shot dead two men he suspected of trying to rob him in the city of Lahore.
Months later, U.S. special forces killed Osama bin Laden in a raid and kept the Pakistan military in the dark, humiliating the country’s most powerful institution.
Then a NATO air raid mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border in November that year.
In response, Pakistan expelled U.S. military trainers and CIA agents and placed limits on the numbers of visas given to U.S. diplomatic personnel.
Pakistan, which relies heavily on American aid, also closed supply routes for trucks carrying supplies to U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Now, Khar said, relations were fully repaired, including military and intelligence contacts.
“We are having very useful, deep conversations with the U.S.,” she said, as the two countries try to find common ground on Afghanistan ahead of the scheduled 2014 pullout.
Both the United States and Afghanistan have long regarded Pakistan as an unreliable partner in the drive to bring stability to Afghanistan, accusing Pakistan’s intelligence agency of backing Afghan insurgent groups.