Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari said that Pakistan valued its close bilateral ties with Saudi Arabia as ISI chief Lieutenant General Shuja Pasha left for that country Monday amid strained ties between Islamabad and Washington.
The US-Pakistan ties have become strained over an American accusation that the ISI supported the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network.
Zardari said the edifice of the special relationship between the two countries was based on common faith and cultural affinities and it had further been cemented by the shared aspirations of people, the president’s spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said in a statement Monday on the eve of National Day of Saudi Arabia.
The president said that Pakistan wanted to further strengthen the already existing bilateral cooperation in many areas, including trade, commerce, investment, manpower, energy and agriculture to the mutual benefit of the two countries, reported Associated Press of Pakistan.
Zardari said: “We in Pakistan regard with great admiration the huge strides that Saudi Arabia has made in all walks of life…”
He added: “Every difficult moment in our history has witnessed us standing together in mutual support and solidarity.”
Top military commanders met Sunday to propose the visit to Saudi Arabia by the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) chief to brief Saudi leaders on the Pakistan-US tension.
US military commanders have accused Pakistan’s spy agency ISI of supporting the Haqqani network for carrying out two attacks on the US embassy in Kabul and the US military base in Afghanistan’s Wadak province this month.
Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen September 22 called the Haqqani network a “veritable arm” of the ISI, a charge Pakistan denied.
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta threatened to take unilateral action against the Haqqani network inside Pakistan if the authorities there failed to do so.
The threat reopened the feeling of hurt and injury Pakistan has nursed since the US commandos mounted a sneak operation and killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in his hideout in Abbottabad, close to Islamabad.