Washington, Jan 18: In further escalation of tension with the US, Pakistan has asked that the visit of President Barack Obama's special envoy to the country be put on hold till it formulates its policies towards Washington in the wake of the deadly NATO strike killing 24 Pakistani soldiers.
Obama's special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman was to visit Pakistan as part of his ongoing tour to the region for consultation on exploratory talks with Taliban to engage them in reconciliation process.
“We received word that the Pakistan government felt that it would be best to wait (for Grossman's visit) until this parliamentary review is concluded,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a news briefing.
Pakistan has set up a parliamentary committee to formulate its rules of engagement with the US following the November 26 NATO strike.
Following the attack, Pakistan blocked NATO supply routes from its soil, asked US to vacate Shamshi air base and said it will review its rules of engagement with the Washington.
It was not immediately known when exactly when Grossman planned to visit Pakistan.
The development indicates further deterioration in Pak-US relationship which has been on a continuous downswing since the May 2 US raid on Osama bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad. But, in response to questions, Toner said that Pakistan would continue to play a role in Afghan reconciliation process.
On Pak-US differences, the State Department spokesman said there was no alternative other than for two countries to work on their divergences.
“There's no other solution here other than to work through our differences. We absolutely view Pakistan as an essential partner to this Afghan-led reconciliation process,” Toner said.
The US, he said, would wait for the outcome of the Pakistani parliamentary committee review of the nature of relationship between the two countries, and insisted that it is unlikely go beyond the deep regret which it expressed for the November 26 NATO attack which killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
The Washington Post had reported earlier that Pakistan had turned down the request of Grossman to travel to Islamabad during his current trip to the region that started this week.
The paper quoting US officials said this indicated Washington's patience with Pakistan was growing thinner as the country was increasingly standing upfront against the US and was saying “no” more often than ever.