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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United States have discussed specific areas for the US investment in the country to strengthen its economy and enhance bilateral trade. Speaking at her online weekly media briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said that US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) Chief Executive Officer Adam Boehler visited Islamabad on Wednesday.

She said that Boehler met with Pakistan's economic team under the leadership of the Adviser on Commerce, Abdul Razak Dawood, to discuss specific areas of cooperation for the US investments.

She said that the visit of Boehler was a part of Pakistan-US economic engagement in line with the decision of the leadership last July to intensify trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

She said that there had also been several virtual meetings between the two sides on matters related to economy, trade, and finance.

Ambassador Khalilzad and Adam Boehler, according to a statement of the US Embassy, held meetings with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and other officials, and thanked Pakistani officials for their ongoing efforts to advance the peace process.

"Ambassador Khalilzad noted how close the sides are to starting intra-Afghan negotiations and the importance of resolving remaining issues quickly, underscoring the promise peace holds for regional stability and development," the embassy stated.

It further stated that Boehler highlighted the mission of the IDFC, and discussed investment opportunities to strengthen Pakistan's economy, and contribute to peace and stability in the region with senior officials, including Advisor to the Prime Minister for Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood.

Responding to a question about the level of trust between the Pakistan and the US, Aisha Farooqui said, "There has been a marked improvement in our bilateral ties since August 2018".

She said that Pakistan had been extending support and facilitation, in good faith, to seek a political solution to the prolonged Afghan conflict.

"This is in line with the consistent advocacy and stance of Prime Minister Imran Khan that there is no military solution to the Afghan problem," she added.

Recently, she added that there had been positive strides in the ongoing peace process including the historic agreement between the US and Taliban.

She said that the relevant Afghan stakeholders were now moving forward towards starting the intra-Afghan dialogue, which "we hope would lead to a comprehensive and inclusive political settlement".

During his meeting with Foreign Minister Qureshi, she said that Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad also expressed condolences on the loss of lives in the terrorist attack on the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi, and extended the US support.

She said that the foreign minister praised the bravery of the security personnel, and thanked Ambassador Khalilzad for the condolences on the terrorist attack, "which was externally supported and was another manifestation of the state-sponsored terrorism being perpetrated against Pakistan, which we condemn in the strongest possible terms".

"Pakistan has been consistently sensitizing the international community about the Indian leadership's threatening statements to use terrorism as a tool to destabilize Pakistan," she said, adding that Pakistan had already shared with the international community, incriminating evidence about the Indian intelligence agency, RAW's involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan.

She said that the international community should take immediate cognizance of India's use of state-terrorism to destabilise neighbouring countries.

She referred to the statement of the UN Security Council the other day, saying that the members of the council condemned in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly terrorist attack on the PSX, which resulted in killing of several people.

The members of the Security Council expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and to the government of Pakistan.

They also underlined the need to bring the perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice and urged all States, in accordance with their obligations under international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, to cooperate actively with the government of Pakistan and all other relevant authorities in this regard.

To another query about the situation in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, she said that more than 110 innocent Kashmiris had been martyred by the Indian occupation forces during the past six months in fake "encounters" and so-called "cordon-and-search" operations.

"The BJP leadership must realize that it is directly responsible for these politically motivated, arbitrary killings of Kashmiris by the Indian security forces," she said.

She said that the international law prohibited the arbitrary deprivation of life and extra-judicial killings.

"This norm is codified in every major human rights treaty and convention. No illegal Act, such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), can sanctify or provide legal cover to a crime recognized as such by international law," she pointed out, urging the world community to take immediate cognizance of the persistent reports of arbitrary and extrajudicial killings in IOJ&K.

She said that the latest images of which were flashed across the world the other day, "depicting the level of callousness and inhumanity meted out by Indian occupation forces".

"The heart wrenching picture of the three years old boy in Sopore will forever remain seared in the imagination of all those who believe in humanity, human rights and fundamental freedoms," she said, adding that India could not wash away the truth by fake news, and turning its propaganda machinery faster.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020