Pakistan wants closer ties with both China, US: Aizaz Chaudhry

WASHINGTON:Describing Pakistan’s relationship with the US as “tremendously important”, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Aizaz Chaudhry said the state sought to have a broad-based, sustainable relationship with the United States.

Speaking at the Ambassador Series Programme organised by the World Affairs Council, Chaudhry said “whenever Pakistan and the US worked together in the past, both the countries benefited and it had yielded positive results.”

Responding to a question on Afghanistan, the ambassador said peace in the region was “top priority”, stressing that “a stable, prosperous and developed Afghanistan is not only in the favour of Pakistan but the entire region.” Highlighting the United State’s massive investment in the country, Chaudhry urged the US to strengthen Afghan National Security Forces.

Dwelling further on the issue, the ambassador emphasised that while Pakistan was often blamed for the failure in Afghanistan, it was not true, and that not all of the problems were related to terrorism.
“Pakistan cannot be made a scapegoat,” he said. “There is no military solution to the Afghanistan issue. A comprehensive political strategy is required.”

The ambassador reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to eliminating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, clarifying that the sovereign would never allow its soil to be used against any other country and expected that no other country would allow anyone to operate from there against Pakistan either.

When asked about Pakistan’s relations with India, Chaudhry revealed that India had suspended the dialogue process and deteriorated bilateral ties. “Pakistan is ready for a dialogue with India whenever it is ready,” he said, adding that terrorism was a “common enemy” that needed cooperation from both countries to be defeated.

On the lingering issue of Kashmir, he stated that Pakistan would continue to support innocent Kashmiris diplomatically, morally and politically. “India is using force and committing horrendous human rights violations, which breeds hatred among Kashmiris against Indian occupation forces. Indian occupation forces have blinded approximately 1000 Kashmiris using pellet guns.”

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Speaking on CPEC and China’s One Belt, One Road, Chaudhry said that Pakistan’s relations with China were not a “zero sum game” for any other country including the US. “Pakistan wants to have a broad-based, mutually beneficial relationship with China and the US at the same time,” he stressed.

The US is Pakistan’s largest trading partner with deep ties in fields including education, health, counter-terrorism and defence. Almost 50, 000 Pakistani physicians are working in the US while a diaspora of more than a million people living in the US makes a bridge between the two countries. The ambassador underscored the need to enhance cooperation in those areas that were lagging behind.

Chaudhry apprised the audience about the economic turnaround witnessed by Pakistan in recent years, adding that the perceptions about Pakistan were lagging behind the reality of today’s Pakistan. He said the economic fundamentals in the country were moving upwards because of remarkable improvement in law and order situation while claiming that militant incidents had reduced significantly.

May 17 , 2017

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