US-Pakistan talks go beyond Afghanistan, terrorism

Published October 31, 2021
In this February 9, 2015 photo, a State Department contractor adjusts a Pakistan national flag before a meeting between then US secretary of state John Kerry and Pakistan's erstwhile interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on the sidelines of the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism at the State Department in Washington. — Reuters/File
In this February 9, 2015 photo, a State Department contractor adjusts a Pakistan national flag before a meeting between then US secretary of state John Kerry and Pakistan's erstwhile interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on the sidelines of the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism at the State Department in Washington. — Reuters/File

WASHINGTON: The United States and Pakistan are holding regular consultations on issues other than Afghanistan and counterterrorism, US officials and Pakistani lawmakers say.

On Friday afternoon, US Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Uzra Zeya met Pakistan’s Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan for talks on bilateral issues other than terrorism and Afghanistan.

After the meeting, Zeya tweeted that they had an “in-depth discussion” on US-Pakistan relations. “We appreciate our ongoing conversations on counterterrorism, human rights, religious freedom, and support to the Afghan people, including through humanitarian assistance.”

Since the Taliban takeover of Kabul, Pakistan has been urging the US to continue providing humanitarian and economic assistance to Afghanistan.

On Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed sending nearly $144 million of additional humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in the region. So far, the US has sent $474m of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

A 17-member delegation of Pakistani lawmakers, judges and senior civil servants visited Washington this week to look for new venues in cooperation in IT-related fields. The delegation left for New York on Saturday.

The delegation’s head, Senator Faisal Javed Khan, told journalists that they met US lawmakers and representatives from the IT sector, including Google and Facebook. They also met officials from companies like Mastercard, Visa and the US Pakistan Business Council.

“They do appreciate the progress we have made in the IT sector,” Senator Khan told Dawn. “They showed a keen interest in Special Technology Zones that we are setting up. US companies want to work and invest in Pakistan.”

Senator Khan said he felt “no negative vibes in our meetings. They see great potential in Pakistan”.

Pakistani diplomats in Washington pointed out that the US-Pakistan talks were moving forward, “beyond Afghanistan and terrorism.”

They noted that current visitors from Pakistan included the planning minister, finance minister, judges and private sector leaders while Prime Minister Imran Khan also met US presidential adviser for environment John Kerry in Saudi Arabia last week.

“As a vibrant democracy [we’ve] fully invested in protecting the fundamental freedoms and human rights of our citizens,” Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan said. “We are happy to engage with the international community including US to advance our common interests and shared values.”

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2021

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