Broader engagement with US


THE maiden visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Washington, which he will undertake in the next few days, after assuming the office almost a year ago, is being seen with great importance both at home and the United States. Hopes are being expressed that this will go a long way in resetting and refreshing the relationship which has seen many ups and downs over the years.
What are Pakistan’s expectations and is looking forward to from this visit was very clearly articulated by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi while addressing a conference on Pakistan-US relations hosted by Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services on Tuesday. Qureshi said it would be appropriate to work for broader engagement from Afghanistan to bilateral issues, economic and trade cooperation, to peace and stability in South Asia. Indeed Pakistan has played a very positive and important role in the ongoing Afghan peace process which has also been recognized by the US officials. Since US President Donald Trump is attaching special significance to Afghanistan, therefore, the Afghan peace process will undoubtedly be on top of the agenda at talks between the Pakistani and the US leaders. However, what the Foreign Minister was alluding to his address at the conference was that the US should not see Pakistan only from the prism of Afghan security matters. In fact, Pakistan desires a broader level of cooperation with Washington encompassing greater economic and trade relations. The desire to this effect is also expressed by the US officials but it is time to move towards that end in order to build a more strong and robust relationship based on mutual respect and interest. Indeed our focus is not on aid but trade but we should seek repayment of $ 800 under the coalition support fund which the country has already spent on counter terrorism operations. The resumption of strategic level dialogue indeed will provide the basis to both the countries to reset the bilateral relationship and explore ways and means in broadening relations in different fields for which the two countries had also established various working groups. As Pakistan has played the role of facilitator in the Afghan peace process, it also expects the US to use its influence on India for settlement of longstanding disputes in South Asia including the core dispute of Jammu & Kashmir.