WASHINGTON: Speculations that President Asif Ali Zardari may go to Dubai again to ease political pressures on his government reached the US State Department where spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the United States was in no position to confirm or deny such reports.
`We don`t have anything on his travels,` she said while offering to get back to the media when she gets more information.
Another journalist reminded the US official that over the weekend Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had described the army and ISI chiefs` statements to the Supreme Court on the memogate controversy as `illegal and unconstitutional`. `Do the rising tensions between the country`s civilian and military establishments concern you?` the journalist asked.
`You are trying to draw me into an internal Pakistani discussion and I am not sure if it is appropriate for me to do so,` Ms Nuland replied.
The United States has long supported the civilian government while also maintaining a close cooperation between with the military, she said, adding that Washington would like the two sides to resolve their differences through dialogue.
Ms Nuland confirmed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had received a letter from top US scholars, urging the Obama administration to tell Pakistan that Washington was concerned about the security of former Pakistani ambassador Husain Haqqani.
The State Department official recalled that on Friday she had conveyed the State Department`s concerns over this issue and Secretary Clinton would be responding to this letter as well.
Earlier, a bipartisan group of USbased Pakistan analysts sent a letter to Secretary Clinton, which was copied to Vice President Joe Biden, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and CIA Director David Petraeus, noting that: `Mr Haqqani is under intense pressure in Pakistan, including possibly threats to his life, over the so-called `memogate` affair.` The writers asked the US administration to `weigh in with key Pakistani leaders and to make appropriate public statements to ensure that Husain Haqqani is not physically harmed and that due process of law is followed` Also on Monday, the White House said that it wanted to continue its relations with Pakistan despite the complications involved in this relationship.
A journalist noted at the White House briefing that Pakistan had now sent a new ambassador to Washington and asked if the US was satisfied with the kind of cooperation it was receiving from Pakistan after the November 26 incident that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
‘We have an important relationship with Pakistan. We have a complicated relationship with Pakistan. And we continue to work on it because it`s in the interests of theAmerican people and in the interests of American national security to do so’, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney replied.
`We are working with Pakistan precisely because it`s in American national security interest to do so. And we will continue to do that,` he added.
At the State Department, Ms Nuland was asked if Islamabad`s decision to send a new ambassador would improve US relations with Pakistan.
Ms Nuland said that this would provide `a good chance` in the new year to have talks with Pakistan on improving ties.
The new ambassador, she noted, would soon be presenting her credentials to the White House.
In their letter to Secretary Clinton, US scholars said that questions had been raised about the manner in which the Haqqani case was proceeding and whether due process of law was being followed.
`The fact that Haqqani was forced to surrender his passport, despite returning to Pakistan voluntarily to face the charges, is particularly troubling,` they wrote.
`The case against Haqqani follows an ominous trend in Pakistan. The assassinations of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, and journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad this past year have created a culture of intimidation and fear that is stifling efforts to promote a more tolerant and democratic society,` the scholars wrote.