Kerry confident of US-Pakistan ties

Senator John Kerry, who conveyed United States’ profound sorrow to the Pakistanis over the loss of lives in shooting by an American consulate employee Raymond Davis, has expressed confidence in the two countries’ ability to repair current strains and move toward a trusting relationship.

“My hope is that we can stay focused on the strength of our relationship, on the possibilities for the future, learn the lessons of the past, but use it as a way of building an even stronger relationship as we go forward,” the influential lawmaker said in a statement on Thursday at the conclusion of his visit to Pakistan.

The head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s conciliatory tone sought to strike a common ground with Pakistani people in the larger perspective.

The Democratic senator was at pains to stress the importance of joint efforts towards common development and security goals and the need to evolve a durable relationship with the key South Asian country.

“The journey of Pakistan is a journey that I understand and that many, many Americans care about deeply. This is why we have been involved in the new efforts to fulfill a promise to create a people-to-people relationship, the people of Pakistan and the people of the United States, not just the government or one identifiable leader,” he said.

Meanwhile, officials in Washington said the U.S. Justice Department will open a criminal investigation into the incident involving Raymond Davis, irrespective of his diplomatic status asserted by American officials.

“President Obama and Secretary Clinton have personally asked me to convey to the people of Pakistan our deepest sorrow for the loss of life that occurred there in that tragic incident,” said Kerry, who is co-architect of a multi-year economic assistance program for Pakistan.

“We all feel the pain and the anguish of families who have lost loved ones. We understand what that’s like. And there is nothing that the United States wants more than to see those kinds of incidents disappear forever in the lives of Pakistanis and in our relationship,” he added.

Kerry tried to calm down public anger at the January 27 shooting incident with a promise of U.S. probe into the incident and expression of regret on behalf of the American people. The issue was complicated by controversy over Davis’ status and diplomatic immunity.

Pakistani leaders told Kerry that the wide-ranging relations between the two countries should not be allowed to be compromised by predicating them on any single issue.

International affairs and security experts hold Pakistan-U.S. ties crucial not only to the outcome of the decade-old Afghan conflict but also to peace and development in the broader South Asian region.

Before leaving Pakistan, a reflective Kerry said he has been encouraged by his meetings and hinted at the possibilities of greater economic cooperation in the future.