The high level meetings in Islamabad between US and Pakistani officials head into their second day today, after a marathon four hour session late yesterday. The line-ups of officials present for the two countries is remarkable and reflects the seriousness with which the two countries view the current situation. Pakistan’s Express Tribune provides a partial list of those present at the meetings:
Clinton was accompanied by US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsy, Director Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) David Petraeus, US Special Envoy Marc Grossman and US Ambassador Cameron Munter, while Premier Gilani was assisted by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, ISI chief Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and other senior officials.
Despite the pomp surrounding the meetings and the seniority of those present, there seems to be little prospect that positions on the major issue will change. As I described yesterday, Clinton is delivering the “new” catchphrase for the US of “fight, talk, build”, meaning that the US places the highest priority on fighting the Haqqani network, seen by the US as the biggest current threat and unlikely to participate in meaningful peace talks. By contrast, Pakistan’s Prime Minister has implored the US to “give peace a chance”. From the same Express Tribune article:
A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s press office also confirmed that Pakistan has no plans to initiate a military operation in North Waziristan.
“Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani called upon US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to give peace a chance, as envisaged in the All Parties Conference’s resolution,” said the statement.