Growing Pak-China ties upset US:Pak

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ISLAMABAD: Pak Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry has said that Pakistan’s growing strategic partnership with China is one of the main reasons behind the current strains in its ties with the United States.

Briefing a joint meeting of Senate’s standing committees on foreign affairs and defence on Monday, Chaudhry said the United States was probably upset over the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

Relations between Islamabad and Washington have been on a downward spiral after the May 21 US drone strike in Naushki district of Balochistan that killed Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

But this was the first time a top Pakistani official publicly said that the United States was upset over the closeness between Islamabad and Beijing. China also joined Pakistan in condemning the Naushki strike, calling it ‘detrimental to peace efforts’ in Afghanistan.

The foreign secretary said Pakistan had made it clear to the United States that it would not compromise on certain issues of national security, including its nuclear programme.

Pakistan has conveyed a clear message to a senior US official that the government would not accept more drone strikes, he added. He was referring to the visit of President Barack Obama’s pointman for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Olson who met with senior civil and military officials of Pakistan last week.

Aizaz said the United States had acted in haste in carrying out the drone attack in Naushki which according to him sabotaged the Afghan peace process. “We have asked the Americans to decide whether they want to resolve the Afghan imbroglio through use of military force or through talks,” he added.

Aizaz stressed that pursuing peace process was the only viable option to bring stability in Afghanistan. “They [the Americans] have been using [military] force for the last 16 years, but they are not willing to give six months to the peace process.”

F16 deal lapsed

Briefing the committee members, Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retd) Alam Khattak said the F-16 deal lapsed after the US Congress refused to subsidise the purchase of the state-of-the-art fighter jets.

He said he would not go into details of the F-16s issue with the US as the aircraft would be now acquired through a third party. “Pakistan is now exploring other options to obtain F16 jets from Jordan with the approval of the United States,” he added. Besides that Pakistan would also explore other options, including Russia and France.

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