US, Pak military officials met secretly in Oman to resolve diplomatic crisis

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Washington, Feb. 25 (ANI): American and Pakistani military officials reportedly held a secret day-long meeting in Oman earlier this week in an attempt to resolve their bilateral diplomatic crisis arising out of the arrest of Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor, for fatally shooting two armed Pakistani men.

The United States was represented by the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, General David Petraeus, commander of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, Admiral Eric Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and Marine Corps General James Mattis, the commander of U.S. Central Command, Stars and Stripes reported.

The Pakistani delegation included Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Major General Javed Iqbal,the Director-General of Military Operations, a report filed by the web site thecable.foreignpolicy.com said.

The meeting reportedly covered various aspects of the U.S.-Pakistani relationship, but a large portion of it was dedicated to the Davis episode.

Former Pakistan army chief, General (retired) Jehangir Karamat, who also served as Pakistan's ambassador to the United States from 2002 to 2004, indirectly confirmed that such a meeting had taken place.

"The US had to point out that once beyond a tipping point the situation would be taken over by political forces that could not be controlled," General (retired) Karamat wrote about the meeting, referring to the reported split between the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) that erupted following the Davis shooting.

In Oman, American officials reportedly implored the Pakistani military to step up its involvement in the Davis case, after the Pakistan Government opted to pass the buck to the judicial system.

"[T]he US did not want the US-Pakistan relationship to go into a free fall under media and domestic pressures," General (retired) Karamat wrote.

He added: "These considerations drove it to ask the [Pakistani] Generals to step in and do what the governments were failing to do-especially because the US military was at a critical stage in Afghanistan and Pakistan was the key to control and resolution."

He said: "The militaries will now brief and guide their civilian masters and hopefully bring about a qualitative change in the US-Pakistan Relationship by arresting the downhill descent and moving it in the right direction."

A senior Pakistani official confirmed the accuracy of Karamat's analysis to The Cable. The official said that the Davis incident would hopefully now be put on a path toward resolution following a feeding frenzy in the Pakistani media.

"The idea is to find a solution whereby the Davis incident does not hijack the U.S.-Pakistan relationship," the official said.

The most probable outcome, the official explained, is that Davis would be turned over to the United States, following a promise from the U.S. government to investigate the incident.

The United States would also compensate the families of the two Pakistani men killed by Davis, and a third man who died after two other U.S. embassy personnel ran him over while racing to the scene of the shooting.

Negotiations between U.S. officials and the family members are already underway, the official said.

Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council, said that it was the responsibility of the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, led until recently by Shah Mahmood Qureshi, to resolve the Davis case.

"It's really the Foreign Ministry's responsibility, but in the absence of action by the civilian government, if the military can help persuade them to resolve this matter and find the way, that's all for the better," Nawaz said.

The CIA and the ISI are talking, the Pakistani official said, but the path toward reconciliation will be a long one, he added. (ANI)

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