x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Pakistan makes pointed response to Clinton's call for reforms

Foreign ministry responds to US secretary of state by saying it is in the world's interest as well to ensure Pakistan remains stable.

ISLAMABAD // Stability and development in South Asia is not only important for Pakistan but for the world, the Pakistani government said yesterday in a reply to US comments on the need for reform in the country.

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said on Friday that Pakistan was at risk of major instability which threatens the US-led war effort in Afghanistan and it should adopt reforms and stop fomenting anti-American sentiment.

She spoke as US-Pakistan tensions are high over the killing of two Pakistanis by an American embassy worker. The US says Raymond Davis, was acting in self-defence against robbers and qualifies for diplomatic immunity. But Pakistani authorities have refused to release Mr Davis since the shooting on January 27.

The foreign ministry statement replied to Mrs Clinton's concerns by saying it was in the world's interest as well to ensure Pakistan remains stable, a reminder about how closely tied the interests of the two countries are.

"It is Pakistan's considered view that stability, peace and development in the South Asian region is not only important for Pakistan but has global ramifications," it said. The sentiment is one that has been voice previously, but was particularly pointed as it was issued in response to Mrs Clinton's speech.

The ministry also called on the international community to support its attempts to work with India and Afghanistan to promote stability and development.

The standoff over Mr Davis also appears to also be exposing rifts within the Pakistani government, which has been trying to navigate between intense US pressure to release Mr Davis and domestic anger over the deaths.

On Saturday, the spokeswoman for the ruling party resigned just days after stirring a furore with comments that seemed to support US claims of Mr Davis's immunity. Fauzia Wahab has said her comments were her personal opinion and not the position of the party.

Meanwhile, Pakistani security forces killed 14 militants in a clash yesterday with insurgents in a tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said.

Four government soldiers were wounded but none killed, said Maqsood Khan, a local administrator in Mohmand tribal area.

Also along the border, local tribesmen found two bodies of men accused by militants of spying for the Americans.

A local resident, Salahuddin Dawar, said the bodies were lying on a road near his house. A note on one of the bodies accused them of being American spies and of helping coordinate drone attacks.

Taliban militants in Pakistan's northwest often target suspected spies.