Pak, US enjoy longstanding ties: Aizaz

Interview
Faisal Zahid Malik

Washington DC

Following are the responses of the Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary to Pakistan Observer questions:
Q. Pakistan-US relations date back to 20 October 1947, United States being among the first nations to establish relations with newly founded country, but history of this relationship has been of see-saw nature. How do you assess the ties between Washington and Islamabad now?
A. Pakistan and the United States have enjoyed longstanding relationship since Pakistan’s independence., at all critical junctures of history through the cold war to the fight against terrorism, Pakistan has supported the United States. The bonds of friendship between the two peoples are based on shared values of democracy and respect for rule of law. Bilateral engagement between the two countries has grown to be broad based and multifaceted, manifest in strong cooperation in economic, education, defence and cultural fields. The United States remains one of Pakistan’s largest trading partners. Many thousands of Pakistani students travel to the United States for higher education and there is a very large Pakistani-American community United States, which provide a solid people-to-people underpinning to the relationship.
Q. United States is Pakistan’s biggest investor, our political relations saw ups and downs, but economic ties, remained stable and gaining in strength. Could these be affected with the emerging phenomenon of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor?
A. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor symbolizes the Government of Pakistan’s vision for using connectivity as a catalyst for Pakistan’s economic development and a catalyst for win-win cooperation in the region. We believe that as a result of CPEC, stimulated economic growth in Pakistan will offer many new investment and business opportunities for the US businesses in an expanded Pakistani economy.
Q. United States tilt towards India in recent months, particularly after take over of Donald Trump can be a worrying factor. Can it really be a turning point substantially in bilateral ties in coming months or years?
A. Pakistan’s relations with the United States are longstanding and driven by common interests, independent of either country’s relationship with any third country.
Q. Would America’s decision to supply 22 high-tech drones to India be dangerous for our security?
A. We believe that the maintenance of strategic stability in South Asia is in the common interest of both Pakistan and the United States. Defence sales that promote conventional imbalance in the region negatively impact strategic stability.
Q. China, Russia and their nexus saved Pakistan from Modi’s design to vote against us at New Delhi’s BRICS conference. How can Pakistan cash on such opportunities?
A. “Pakistan wishes to have cooperative engagement with all countries”
Q. What was the significance of the latest visit of the Chinese foreign minister to Pakistan and Afghanistan at a time when Kabul shows more inclined to New Delhi in strategic terms?
A. Pakistan shares China’s desire to see peace and stability in Afghanistan. As a part of this endeavour Pakistan wishes to have better relations with Afghanistan based on mutual respect.
Q. What about Pakistan-US political, economic and cultural ties in nut shell?
A. Pakistan and the United States maintain robust cooperation in a range of areas. Pakistan looks forward to further expanding these mutually beneficial ties with the United States in the coming years.
Q. How do you see the Indo-U.S. Joint Communiqué that calls on Pakistan to “do more” while neglecting the gross human rights violations in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir?
A. Over the past 16 years, Pakistan has remained the most effective bulwark against terrorism in the region. Pakistan has proven that the tide of terrorism can be turned and terrorist put on the run. Pakistan continues to undertake significant military operations against terrorist networks.
In terms of the human and financial sacrifice, Pakistan has done the most in the region in the fight against terrorism and expects matching actions from other partners.
Pakistan will continue to extend moral and political support to the right of self-determination of the oppressed people of the Indian occupied Kashmir. The international community must condemn gross violation of Human Rights perpetrated by the Indian law enforcement forces.
Q. Many Pakistanis believe that U.S. has often used Pakistan and dumped it when Washington’s goals are achieved. What’s your view?
A. A close bilateral relationship between Pakistan and the United States serves critical common interests. The history of the relationship is a testimony that both countries stand to gain more when they work together in the pursuit of common goals.

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