The Chairman of the US Senate s Committee on Foreign Relations, Senator John Kerry has said that Pakistan needs to provide assurances in the fight against terrorism.

"Some people in the US Congress are arguing that all aid ought to be cut-off to a number of countries summarily, just automatically. Let me just say that walking away is simply not an option and we are not going to do that, and that is not a majority view of the United States Congress", he said while referring to proposed legislation in Congress that calls for cutting-off all aid to Pakistan unless and untill it agrees to take action against Haqqani network and release Dr. Shakeel Afridi.

Senator Kerry, who was speaking after a metting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, hinted that some of the concerns on the Hill were legitimate.

"Congress does look for assurances from Pakistan that those things which are not just in our interest but in global interest, fighting against terror, not looking the other way when terrorists are plotting and planning in one s country; all of those things are in mutual interest and we need to renew and reaffirm our mutual commitment to working together in order to make both of our countries safer and tro strengthen the relationship between us", he said in no uncertain terms, a private television channel reported Friday.

He said the Committee members discussed the issue of Dr. Shakeel Afridi, who has been convicted in Pakistan for helping out CIA reach Osama bin Laden s compond. "Yes, we did discuss Dr. Afridi in the meeting and our concerns were raised. I think there is a legal process underway now, this was explained to us, there is a report that will be forthcoming that is a vey independently commissioned report on exactly what happened with Osama bin Laden, how he was there, why he was there, what happened; that report will be forthcoming sometime in October. So we need to both let the legal process proceed, as well as see the results of that report and continue the dialogue with respec to the Doctor. That will take place I am confident, but we did indeed express our concerns about it and we had a good discussion", he maintained.        

In response toa nother question about the trust deficit between both countries, Senator Kerry agreed that this was a long road ahead. "You build trust. It takes place over a period of time and we are in the process of doing that. I think today s meeting was a very positive effort in that direction", he explained. "This has been a very difficult year and a half, in the relationship with Pakistan. But there are many many peole of goodwill in Pakistan, and the foreign minister and the ambassador are the people of that goodwill, who are working hard because they understand the importance of that relationship", he opined.

The Senators, who is often credited for working behind the scenes to troubleshoot the difficulties in Pak-US relationship, also appreciated Pakistan s contributions in the fight against terrorism. "We are grateful to Pakistan for the reopening of supply route for our troops and for Afghanistan, and for working with us under difficult circumstances. We are grateful to them for continuing to forebear the difficulties posed by those mebers of al-Qaeda who have chosen to place themselves against the will of Pakistan in the western part of their country, and who have tolerated with our efforts to try to deal with them and to reduce the threat for all of us", recalled.

"We are grateful to them for their assistance with respect to intelligence gathering and sharing and a number of other things that we have done together in an effort to fight back against those who terrorize and those who wanted to destroy legitimate governments. So we are working ahrd to get this relationship back on track, because it serves both of our interests. The truth is that we have very common interests in working together, not just to fight terrorism, but to produce a stable Afghanistan, one which is of interest to Pakistan as well as to the Unted States, as well as to further relations with India and the rest of South East Asia in the region", he asserted.

The Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, a well known face of the S foreign policy around the world, also took the opportunity to condemn a sensitive youtube video that has sparked widespread protests across the Muslim world. "Let me begin by saying to the people of Pakistan, indeed to the people of the world, particularly to everybody within Islam that all of us condemn the senseless intolerance exhibited by the video which very few of the Americans have seen, and which we feel is without any legitimacy, without any potential redeeming quality whatsoever. It is an insult to everybody, religious intolerance is an insult to everybody", he regretted.

"No religion, no matter where, when and how it was formed and what it represents, deserves a disrespect. And our country is founded on tolerance, that s what people came here to find, and that s what all of us in the world need to work towards. But we want to make it very clear that there is no room for that, but there is also no room for violent reaction to something like that. There is no room for the taking of lives as a consequence of that.

There is certainly room to protest, there is room to make voices heard but not at the expense of human life", he observed.

He appreciated the Pakistani response to the demonstrations and for protecting the American diplomatic staff there. "We are very appreciative of the swift response in recent days by Pakistani security forces to help protect the American consulate in Peshawar when demonstrations took place there". "We have had a very frank and very extensive conversation. I think it was extremely productive from the point of view of all the Senators who attended", he said while sounding positive about the outcome of the hourlong meeting with Pakistani FM and the country s Ambassador to US. NNI