KARACHI: A violent and obscene cyberspace attack by Indian citizens attempted, but failed, to disrupt a webinar organised by the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations (KCFR) on Tuesday night as the event went on successfully.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was the principal speaker. He said Indian leaders have spoken openly of their readiness to use armed action against Pakistan. Nothing in a nuclear world would be even more reckless.
Though Pakistan will continue to work for peace in the region with the US, he said, our relationship must be broader. The arrival of a new administration in Washington gives us the ability to have a relationship that is long-term, broad-based and multidimensional. An institutionalised and systemic commitment that is focused on mutual interest would be needed for such a collaboration. On its own merits and on its own weight, [there should be] a good US-Pak alliance. Because of geo-economics, it is convincing.
Pakistan is a country of 220 million inhabitants, of which two-thirds are under the age of 30. We’re stuck at a crossroads between China and South and Central Asia. Pakistan envisions itself as the region’s potential trading centre.
Experts suggest a broad-based approach to Pak-US ties in view of a new administration in Washington
Mr. Qureshi said Pakistan and the US need to work together to reinforce Afghanistan and explore resources for Pakistan, Afghanistan, the US and China to co-invest. In the economic sphere, the scope for Pak-US ties is enormous. As a global energy provider, the US is emerging.
In reality, Pakistan’s focus on supplying all its people with high-quality affordable healthcare predated the Covid-19 crisis but acquired a greater urgency. Likewise, in fighting climate change, Pakistan has become an international trailblazer. International acclaim has been earned by our large tree plantation campaigns. We expect to get support from the Biden administration to mitigate the health crisis and its economic effects, as well as to tackle climate change.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that the eradication of corruption is high on our agenda. We welcome the call made by President Biden to clamp down on money laundering and criminal safe havens that are causing immense harm to developed countries. The people of Pakistan have always had a personal link with the United States. Eventually, the commonality of beliefs is the basis of every good friendship.
“Our shared interests, our common aspirations for economic development and strengthened regional connectivity, and the rare moment of hope for peace in Afghanistan provide a strong foundation for both sides to move forward with their bilateral relations,” he said.
In response to a question, the Foreign Minister said after the speech: “Our focus has shifted to geo-economics and that demands peace in the region.” That’s why we’ve got a new approach to Afghanistan, to make peace better over there. We still want a stable friendship with India, but sadly it has been vitiated by the present regime [in India] by their actions.
‘Disconnect is emerging in US-Pak relations’4
Woodrow Wilson International Centre analyst Michael Kugelman said the US-Pak alliance had already been reset several years back when the Trump administration agreed it needed to partner with Pakistan to help initiate bilateral talks with the Taliban.
The bond stabilised until the two decided to engage in the Afghan mediation process. Still, it remains the case. The big question is whether the alliance would lose or advance the traction it has enjoyed over the past two years [with the incoming Biden administration]. The easy response is that either direction it can go.
I sense like a disconnection of relationships is developing. The government has been largely quiet in Pakistan. What is said regarding the expectations of Pakistan for the partnership does not find too much sympathy with the next government,’ he said.
Ambassador Zamir Akram pointed out that any country’s foreign policy is driven by its national security interests. The transition in Washington’s administration does not actually mean that US foreign policy parameters will change.
A certain reset has already taken place, former US ambassador Robin L. Raphel said, but there is still a need for more to be achieved. Being frank with ourselves, with each other and showing each other the truth is the secret to any constructive reset. Two essential truths are important. One is that Pakistan is a significant country. Second, the US continues to be the preeminent global force. Despite this, the US has appeared to be an inconstant friend from the Pakistani viewpoint, unable to take into account Pakistan’s national security issues, especially with regard to India.
For its side, the US was disappointed when it saw Pakistan’s ineffective support for its Afghanistan activities. And the US was perplexed by what it saw as Pakistan behaving against its own long-term interests, particularly in support of different groups of militants. Neither side tried hard enough, she said, to grasp each other.
Three initial points were made by Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry in his speech.
One, ties between Pak and the US have always oscillated. Second, there was extensive people-to-people touch. Third, the United States saw Pakistan through five lenses: defence, China, Afghanistan, India and a nuclear programme that underestimated the value of Pakistan.
He argued that a broad-based approach to relations was appropriate with the Biden administration in place.
Kalim Farooqui moderated the case.