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Partners, but no nuke deal

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Thursday said he was satisfied after his country’s strategic dialogue with the US that their ties had been transformed into a partnership.

world Updated: Mar 26, 2010 00:30 IST

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Thursday said he was satisfied after his country’s strategic dialogue with the US that their ties had been transformed into a partnership. The US agreed to fast track financial and military aid to Pakistan, but declined to consider providing a civil nuclear agreement.

“Today, we have a partnership. And hopefully, this partnership will turn the tide in our favour — hopefully, in our mutual favour,” Qureshi told a press conference with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “Today, I am a happy man and a satisfied man.”

Clinton, when asked, termed the request for a civilian nuclear deal as “complicated issue” and ruled out any mediatory role for the US in resolving Indo-Pakistani issues.

Qureshi said, “I suggested to Madame Secretary that if you want this relationship to become a partnership, you’ve got to think differently. You got to act differently. And you’ve got to upgrade the level of our engagement. And she agreed.”

An emboldened Qureshi also he was confident that India would have to revisit its Pakistan policy soon. “I am confident that India will have to revisit its policy and very soon,” he said, seemingly an indication Islamabad expected India to resume the composite dialogue though Islamabad has yet to fulfil New Delhi’s demand for concrete action against terrorism.

He said Pakistan was unconcerned about the Indo-US relationship. “As far as India is concerned, you know, they are a sovereign country, and they have bilateral relations (with the US). We respect that. But all we are saying that those relations should not be at the cost of Pakistan, and we are very clear and I think you're (Clinton) very clear on that.”

But General Ashfaq Kayani, the powerful army chief of staff, was clearly the star of Pakistan's delegation, if not its official leader. At a Tuesday evening reception at the Pakistani Embassy, Kayani's entry brought a hush to the crowd.

Most of the agreements announced after the meeting had been decided earlier, including disbursement of a new $7.5-billion, five-year US aid package for Pakistan’s energy, water, agricultural and education sectors. Long-standing Pakistani complaints about nearly $1 billion in promised but unpaid US reimbursements for Pakistan’s counterinsurgency operations had been largely resolved, with the remaining money to be paid by the end of June.

Gilani to brief house

Pakistani officials are congratulating themselves over the concessions they claim to have won in the strategic dialogue with the US, but parliamentarians at home are upset at being kept out of the loop.

MPs said in parliament on Thursday that they were not kept abreast of what was being discussed in Washington between Qureshi and Clinton.

In response, Prime Minister Gilani promised senators that he would make a full briefing soon on the US visit.