WASHINGTON: Pakis-tan looks forward to building a “stand-alone, broad-based and enduring partnership” with the new US Administration, led by President Joe Biden, Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan said at a virtual event held on Monday to mark Pakistan Day.
The Pakistani envoy said that US-Pakistan relationship drew strength from key enablers including strong people-to-people ties, mutually beneficial businesses and economic linkages, shared values and principles and common interest in promoting peace and stability in the region.
Derek Chollet, Counselor at US Department of State and Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Antony Blinken was the guest of honour at the event, according to a press release issued by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington.
Senator Chris Van Hollen, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson, Congressman Tom Souzzi — Democrats — and Congressman Jim Banks, a Republican, sent video messages. Officials from the State Department and the member of the Pakistani American community also joined the event.
In his remarks, Ambassador Khan said that the new and transformed Pakistan was focused on economic security, with a foreign policy geared to deliver peace and security for its people.
Pakistan’s geographical location, demographic dividend, democratic orientation, rich human and natural resources and improved security situation enabled it to become an economic and transit hub and melting pot of global interest, he said.
Terming peace in Afghanistan as an important convergence between the US and Pakistan, the Pakistani envoy emphasized on working together to facilitate the peace process for achieving an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned inclusive political settlement.
He also highlighted Pakistan’s peace overtures towards India and said that the onus was now on India to demonstrate seriousness in pursuing peace in the region and create enabling environment for meaningful dialogue on all outstanding issues including the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir.
Elaborating on Pakistan-US relations, Ambassador Khan stressed on further enhancing trade and business ties by building business to business linkages between the two countries.
He also praised the role of Pakistani-American diaspora and their valuable contributions towards providing a solid foundation for a strong Pakistan-US partnership.
Chollet, Counselor at US Department of State and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State, extended felicitations on behalf of the Secretary of State and the American people on the National Day of Pakistan.
He said that the US government looked forward to close cooperation with Pakistan to address common challenges, including ending the long conflict in Afghanistan, defeating the scourge of terrorism; combating the Covid-19 pandemic; addressing climate change; and deepening bilateral trade and investment ties.
Chollet also highlighted the importance of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan for the US and Pakistan, saying that close cooperation on ending the war in Afghanistan and fighting the scourge of terrorism was the way forward to unlock the true potential of Pakistan-US partnership.
He added that peace in Afghanistan would also benefit Pakistan given its strategic position as a connectivity hub in South and Central Asia.
Speaking on Pakistan-US trade ties, Chollet said that the trade between the two countries touched new heights in 2020, exceeding US$ 6.8 billion despite the economic challenges posed by Covid-19.
Pakistan’s economic assets such as mature industrial sector and large, young, English-speaking population could attract greater US investment.
He also highlighted the deep and multifaceted people-to-people ties between the two countries, with Pakistan having one of the largest US government’s exchange portfolios benefiting both countries through projects such as Parallel Pandemic Project, a US-funded university partnership between researchers at George Mason University and University of Karachi, examining the impact
of Covid-19 in both countries.
Chollet also spoke about the US Pakistan Women’s Council and the important work it has done to foster women’s workforce participation, entrepreneurship and access to education, helping to expand bilateral cooperation on the economic front.
Senator Chris Van Hollen, in his video message, said that the people of Pakistan and the US shared common aspirations based on guiding principles of fraternity, equality and liberty envisioned by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
He highlighted the importance of US-Pakistan cooperation to achieve a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan, which fully respects the rights of all Afghans.
Emphasizing on economic growth and prosperity for the long-term stability of the region, Senator Hollen said that he would be introducing a bipartisan legislation in the US Senate that would provide trade and economic opportunities for the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Chairperson of the Congressional Pakistan Caucus, said that Pakistan and the US had been friends and partners sharing democratic values as well as aspirations of their people to lead better lives and build a peaceful and prosperous world.
Ms Lee recalled the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to the US in July 2019 that strengthened close partnership between the two countries and looked forward to the opportunity to host him again in Washington.
She also commended the spirit of entrepreneurship of Pakistani-American diaspora, contributing to the development and progress of the US, particularly their philanthropic efforts in times of Covid-19 pandemic. She specifically mentioned the contributions of Pakistani-American doctors during hurricane Harvey as well as the pandemic.
Congressman Tom Souzzi, Co-Chairman of the Pakistan Causcus, and Congressman Jim Banks lauded the contributions of Pakistani-American diaspora, particularly medical professionals and healthcare workers, for helping the communities in the US during the Covid-19 pandemic. The event was live streamed on the Embassy’s social media platforms.