ISLAMABAD – Stability and development in South Asia is not only important for Pakistan but for the world, said Pakistani government Sunday in a reply to U.S. comments on the need for reform in the troubled country.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that Pakistan is at risk of major instability which threatens the U.S.-led war effort in neighboring Afghanistan and it should implement reforms and stop fomenting anti-American sentiment.
She spoke as U.S.-Pakistan tensions are high over the killing of two Pakistanis by an American embassy worker. The U.S. says Raymond Davis, was acting in self-defense against robbers and qualifies for diplomatic immunity. But Pakistani authorities have refused to release Davis since the Jan. 27 shooting.
The Foreign Ministry statement replied to Clinton's concerns by saying it's in the world's interest as well to ensure Pakistan remains stable, a reminder who 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 Clinton's speech.
The ministry also called on the international community to support its attempts to work with neighboring India and Afghanistan to promote stability and development.
The standoff over Davis also appears to also be exposing rifts within the Pakistani government, which has been trying to navigate between intense U.S. pressure to release Davis and domestic anger over the deaths.
On Saturday, the spokeswoman for the ruling party resigned just days after stirring a furor with comments that seemed to support U.S. claims of Davis' 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 Sunday morning clash 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 border, local tribesmen found two dead bodies of men accused by militants of spying for the Americans.
Area 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.
The army has staged multiple offensives in Pakistan's northwest aimed at taking out the Pakistani Taliban in recent years. Its efforts against the group, which is distinct from but linked to the Afghan Taliban, appear to have had some success, but violence persists.
Associated Press writers Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan and Anwarullah Khan in Khar contributed to this report.