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Ambassador Sherry Rehman met Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader

 

 

Ambassador Sherry Rehman met Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, in his Chamber this afternoon. Senator McConnell was joined by Senator Rand Paul. She met with Senator Rische.

Both sides agreed on the importance of overcoming the current stalemate in the bilateral relationship urgently and to work for robust and even keeled relationship based on mutual respect.

Senator Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul in addition to conveying their concerns over the conviction and continued detention of Dr. Shakeel Afridi, urged Pakistan to open the GLOCs to facilitate supplies to US/ISAF and to take action against Haqqani Network involved in attacking US/ISAF from their sanctuaries on Pakistani territory. Senator Rische raised the same concerns.

On Shakeel Afridi, Ambassador briefed the Senators that Dr. Afridi was charged and convicted by Political Administration in Khyber Agency for supporting and working with Lashkar-e-Islam, a terrorist organization responsible for killing innocent civilians and law enforcement personnel. She told the Senators that an appeals process exists and Dr. Afridi’s lawyers are reportedly appealing against the conviction. She stressed that Pakistan has an independent judiciary which functions pursuant to the Constitution and in accordance with the laws of Pakistan. Government was, therefore, not in a position to interfere in the judicial process.

In response to the Senators assertion that Afridi helped nab OBL, Ambassador Rehman stressed that he did not even know if the job he was contracted for by CIA was meant to nab OBL. Dr. Afridi’s actions have seriously jeopardized Pakistan’s efforts to fight disease and polio, particularly among children. She emphasized that Dr. Afridi’s case needs to be handled in a prudent fashion.

On GLOCs, Ambassador expressed the hope that two sides will be able to reach a common understanding at the earliest. An apology for Salala, she stressed, would help reach an early closure on this important issue. On sanctuaries in Pakistan, Ambassador stressed that Pakistan had no tolerance for militant groups and our actions in Swat, Bajaur, Mohmand Agency and South Waziristan proved it. Unfortunately, militants forced out of our territory often found safe havens in Afghanistan. She recalled that over the last one month, three major attacks were launched from these sanctuaries on Afghanistan side resulting in the martyrdom of 18 of our soldiers. The continued presence of these sanctuaries in Afghanistan in the face of US, NATO and Afghanistan’s combined military might is beyond explanation, she stressed.

 

 

 

Washington, DC
June 27, 2012

 

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