ISLAMABAD: Leading foreign policy expert from the United States Prof Vali Nasr on Monday urged Pakistani policymakers to have close coordination with Iran on the Afghan issue, stressing that no political solution was possible without Iran.
Mr Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, was speaking at a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs about Pakistan-US relations, President Donald Trump’s visit to India and US views about China, Iran and Afghanistan.
He said that Pakistan was much closer to Washington on the Afghan issue than New Delhi and peace in Afghanistan “opens the door for Pakistan for a new relationship with the US beyond security ties”.
Senate committee chairman Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that Pakistan’s long-standing position that the United States should talk to the Taliban had now been finally vindicated with the upcoming peace deal and Pakistan had now more ‘strategic space’ to pursue its core foreign policy interests.
Senator Hussain said with Narendra Modi forced to look inwards because of his follies in Kashmir and India, President Trump’s dependent on Pakistan for the Afghan peace process — which he sees pivotal to his election victory in 2020 — and the situation in the Gulf between Iran and its neighbours gave Pakistan a geo-political breather to protect, promote and pursue its foreign policy interests in the region, especially CPEC, Kashmir issue and relations with Iran, Washington and Afghanistan.
Vali Nasr says peace in Afghanistan opens the door for Pakistan for a new relationship with US
Senator Sherry Rehman stressed the need for a sustained and substantive economic engagement with the United States beyond just the security dimension because she feared that the “moment” for Pakistan being a facilitator on Afghanistan might soon be forgotten.
Senator Sirajul Haq raised the issue of ecology and environment of Afghanistan and Pakistan being damaged by decades of conflict with the result that this could also affect future generations like it happened in the case of Vietnam and Cambodia and said that Pakistan should seek reparations from the US for the damage caused by the American wars in the region.
Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar expressed the hope for a rapprochement between Iran and its Arab neighbours, while other members agreed with the assertion of Prof Nasr that “President Trump is not ideological and transactional and he is culturally more compatible with Prime Minister Imran Khan than he is with [Indian] Prime Minister Modi”.
Prof Nasr said that Modi’s domestic agenda for the rest of his term was to erase Nehru’s legacy and reshape India since he had an ideological approach and he praised President Trump for “wiping out the notion and terminology of war on terror politically” as his perspective was all about economy and was opposed to any new wars in the Muslim world.
The meeting was attended by Senators Javed Abbasi, Nuzhat Sadiq, Seemee Ezdi, Sherry Rehman, Anwarul Haq Kakar, Sirajul Haq, Sitara Ayaz and Dr Shahzad Waseem as well as the committee secretary Rabeea Anwar.
Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2020