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US statement about reassessing relations ‘surprises’ Pakistan

  • FO spokesperson says comments were not in line with the close cooperation between Pakistan and the US
Updated 17 Sep 2021

Islamabad: The United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement that Washington will re-assess relationships with Islamabad has “surprised” Pakistan, saying the comments were not in line with the close cooperation between the two countries.

Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad, while responding to a query during his weekly media briefing about the recent remarks made by the US Secretary of State during Congressional hearings on Afghanistan regarding re-assessing relationships with Pakistan, said: “We have noted that the comments were not in line with the close cooperation between Pakistan and the United States.”

“This was surprising as Pakistan’s positive role in the Afghan peace process, recent facilitation of the multinational evacuation effort from Afghanistan, and continued support for an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan have been duly acknowledged, including most recently by the US State Department spokesperson in his briefing of 15 September 2021”.

He recalled that Pakistan had played a critical role in helping the United States degrade al Qaeda’s core leadership in Afghanistan, which was the international coalition’s core objective.

US will continue to look to Pakistan to make 'good on public statements'

At the same time, Pakistan had always maintained that there was no military solution to the larger Afghan conflict and that a political settlement offered the only plausible pathway to sustainable peace in Afghanistan – a position now shared by the United States, he added.

He said that achieving an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan that represents Afghanistan’s diversity and reflects the gains made by the country remains a shared objective for Pakistan and the US.

“We look forward to building on this convergence while also strengthening other aspects of a broad-based and constructive relationship,” the spokesperson further stated.

To the query by US lawmakers in a recent congressional hearing if it was time for Washington to reassess its relationship with Islamabad, Secretary Blinken said: “We are going to be looking at in the days and weeks ahead, the role that Pakistan has played over the last 20 years, but also the role that we would want to see it playing in the coming years.”

In his briefing, the FO spokesperson stated that Pakistan continues to follow the situation in Afghanistan closely.

On the humanitarian side, he said that Pakistan has led the way, having sent already four planes containing relief goods and medical supplies for the people of Afghanistan.

“We also welcome the high-level meeting convened by the UN in Geneva earlier this week to mobilise urgent humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan,” he said, adding that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi represented Pakistan.

The spokesperson said that Pakistan also continues to emphasise that sustained, constructive engagement of the international community is imperative to avoid a humanitarian crisis and help ensure durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s future: US says will assess its ties with Pakistan

Well-being of the Afghan people should be the foremost priority, he added.

He said that Pakistan remains actively engaged with the international community and continues to consult its friends and partners, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan recently spoke again with Russian President Vladimir Putin while the foreign minister has held conversations with his counterparts from Denmark, UAE, and Bahrain during the last week.

To another question regarding trade of nuclear material in India, he said that it is a serious threat to peace and security of the world, adding that it has also exposed India’s institutional inability to control and stop such kind of incidents.

He said that the international community and relevant agencies should take notice of this practice.

When his comments were sought on President Dr Arif Alvi’s recent statement that the government could consider giving an amnesty to those members of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who have not remained involved in criminal activities and who lay down their weapons, the spokesperson declined to comment, saying it was premature to comment on this and that he had nothing “to add to it.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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