Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has urged the Biden administration to “persevere” with the Afghan peace deal which was signed in Doha between the United States and Taliban last year and “not reverse things.”
The foreign minister made the remarks in an interview with Al Jazeera that was published yesterday. He said that Joe Biden, who was sworn in as America’s president on Wednesday, “should realise there is an opportunity in Afghanistan”.
“Push them forward, because, after a long time, we have started moving in the right direction,” Qureshi said.
Qureshi said that his country hopes for greater engagement with the new United States government and also called on Joe Biden to follow up on the ongoing Afghan peace process and US troops withdrawal from the country.
“I think they [Biden administration] should realise there is an opportunity in Afghanistan and they should persevere with what was initiated and not reverse things,” Qureshi told Al Jazeera in an interview.
“We are concerned because we feel violence can vitiate the climate,” Qureshi added. “Pakistan has done a lot, we have really bent backwards to create an environment to facilitate the peace process,” he said, while blaming “spoilers” for the violence, identifying them as internal Afghan players “who have benefited from the war economy” and alleging that “there are elements from outside who do not share our vision, which is a peaceful, stable, prosperous Afghanistan.”
“It is a shared responsibility to begin with but the ultimate responsibility is with the Afghan leadership. It’s their country, it’s their future.”
Qureshi also called on the US not to view Pakistan’s close ties with China – an economic and political rival to the US – as a “zero-sum game”. “They have to understand that our relationship with China is not a zero-sum game for them,” he said, making note of China’s $60 billion investment in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. “They [the US] should come, compete and invest.”
He added that Pakistan was willing to act as a mediator between China and the US, a role it played in 1972 when it facilitated talks to set up an historic visit to Beijing by then-President Richard Nixon. Meanwhile, a day after the Biden inauguration, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf, addressing a gathering of US policymakers at the Washington-based think tank Wilson Centre titled “US-Pakistan Relations in the Biden
Era” on Friday, said Pakistan wants to pursue a bilateral relationship with the US that is not hyphenated or clouded by US interests in other regional countries but is based on mutual understanding.
Laying out a new vision of Pakistan’s engagement with the incoming Biden administration, Dr Yusuf said that the government wants to pursue a bilateral relationship with the US that is not hyphenated or clouded by US interests in other regional countries but is based on mutual understanding.
“In the past, Pakistan was unfortunately seen by Afghanistan prism,” he said while emphasising that the world had undergone immense transformation in the past four years and the new administration should look beyond Obama-era conversation to build a truly bilateral relationship with Pakistan. He told the participants that now you are dealing with a different Pakistan; a Pakistan which is self-confident and whose formal vision is squarely based on economic security paradigm. “Pakistan is talking about becoming a geo-economic melting pot that is ready to consolidate global positive interest in our territory. We are talking about providing the world with economic-bases, not military-bases,” he said. Dr Yusuf while elaborating Pakistan’s vision said that “our focus is connectivity and CPEC is an obvious example of it. This is the reason we desire peace and stability in Afghanistan for westward connectivity. Furthermore, we are looking for development partnerships”.