Zardari attempts to quell Pak-US tensions over Davis | world | Hindustan Times
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Zardari attempts to quell Pak-US tensions over Davis

world Updated: Mar 08, 2011 01:25 IST

President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday sought to quell tensions between Pakistan and the US over the arrest of a suspected CIA contractor on murder charges, saying the two countries should focus on long-term strategic ties instead of being swayed by "misperceptions and some isolated incidents".

Zardari made the remarks during his first meeting with new US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman without specifically referring to security contractor Raymond Davis, who was arrested in Lahore in January after he gunned down two men.

Pakistan has rebuffed US demands to free Davis on grounds of diplomatic immunity, sparking a diplomatic row between the two sides.

Pakistan and the US should "remain focused on the path of pursuing long-term, multifaceted and durable strategic ties for the realisation of shared objectives than be swayed by misperceptions and some isolated incidents that may be used by some to increase tensions and mistrust between the people of the two countries," Zardari was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his office.

Discussing bilateral relations, Zardari said the weakening of ties is "not an option" for the two countries.

"We have to find ways and means to find acceptable solutions to all problems," he said.

It could not immediately be ascertained whether Grossman reiterated the Obama administration’s demand for freeing Davis, whose arrest affected cooperation between the CIA and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Some reports said the two men gunned down by Davis were ISI operatives.

Pakistan's leadership, fearful of a public backlash due to rising anti-American sentiment, have told the US that Davis' case will be settled by the courts.

Zardari told Grossman that Pakistan had "paid heavily" in the war on terrorism by "losing thousands of men and suffering a colossal economic toll".

Pakistan is fighting its war on terrorism in a "manner which was most suitable in the peculiar context of our own and no one should question our commitment or intentions", he said.

In an apparent reference to the public anger over Davis' case, Zardari said the "long-drawn" battle against extremism is a campaign "where military means alone cannot achieve complete victory as it was necessarily a battle of hearts and minds".