ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday stressed the need for enhancing bilateral parliamentary and diplomatic cooperation between Pakistan and the United States to promote peace, stability and economic development in Afghanistan.
During a series of meetings with the visiting Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) Congressman Gregory Meeks and Chairman of Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia and Non-Proliferation Congressman Ami Bera, the Pakistani side apprised the visitors of the new legislation passed by parliament on electoral reforms and rights of women, children, journalists, religious minorities and trans genders.
According to the Prime Minister Office, PM Khan warmly welcomed the two congressmen’s visit to Pakistan and expressed the hope that the visit would not only lead to further deepening of Pakistan-US relations but would also be instrumental in strengthening relations between parliaments of the two countries.
He expressed the hope that more high-level exchanges would take place between the two countries to reinforce their ties.
US Congress delegation also meets foreign minister, army chief
Mr Khan said there was an urgent need to financially assist the Afghan people as part of the effort to prevent a humanitarian crisis and economic collapse in Afghanistan.
He hoped that ways and means would be found to address the liquidity issue to enable banking channels to help Afghanistan sustain its immediate economic burden and challenges.
The two sides agreed that Pakistan and the United States should work to strengthen bilateral trade and economic relationship and cooperate with each other in health, security, counterterrorism and climate change issues.
In a separate meeting with the congressional delegation, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan valued its relationship with the US and wanted to further deepen and widen this relationship.
He expressed the hope that more high-level exchanges would take place between the two countries.
The foreign minister emphasised that Pakistan was pursuing imperatives of geo-economics and it was determined to make the country a hub of trade, investment and finance.
He invited US companies to invest in Pakistan’s IT and health sectors.
The two congressmen said that given Pakistan’s potential and the size of its 220 million-plus consumer market, the US companies were keen to invest in Pakistan. It was noted that both countries were making impressive strides in deepening co-operation in climate change and fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Qureshi underlined Pakistan’s commitment to peace, stability and progress in Afghanistan and highlighted the country’s continuing efforts for facilitating humanitarian assistance and economic support to Afghanistan given the twin challenges being faced by the Afghan people.
He expressed the hope that the international community would expeditiously extend finical assistance to Afghanistan to enable the country to meet its compelling needs.
Congressman Meeks deeply appreciated Pakistan’s role in the evacuation of US and Afghan nationals as well as Special Immigrant Visa Holders (SIVs) from Afghanistan and hoped that the two countries would expand their engagement to stabilise Afghanistan.
The foreign minister said that Pakistan was firmly committed to promoting peace and security in South Asia to enable the region to realise its immense potential and expressed the hope that the US would support Pakistan’s endeavours in this regard.
The delegation also met National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar who apprised the delegation of the recently enacted election reform laws to ensure transparency in the electoral process in Pakistan. He said parliament had legislated on protection of rights of women, children, religious monitories and trans genders.
The speaker said the media was an important part of governance and, therefore, protection of media persons’ rights was imperative so that they could perform their duties without fear or foe.
He said the government owed to the Pakistani diaspora who had made immense contribution towards their motherland. “The recent grant of right to vote to overseas Pakistanis is realisation of the commitment the present government made to them,” he said.
In reply to a question by the congressmen, the speaker said the government had legislated to ensure international transparency, and empowered the State Bank of Pakistan in decision making, besides incentivising the economic and manufacturing sectors to achieve their potential.
The US congressmen thanked the NA speaker for providing them the opportunity for exchange of views. Mr Gregory Meeks agreed that parliamentary engagement would strengthen the existing bilateral relations.
He appreciated the Pakistani leadership for handling the economic crisis during Covid-19. He also termed contributions of Pakistan to climate change and renewable energies, immense. He said that Pakistan was playing a vital role in mitigating the effects of global warming.
Congressman Ami Bera also termed relations between the US and Pakistan based on trust and cooperation. He appreciated contributions of Pakistani women lawmakers to the law making.
The delegation also called on Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed issues of mutual interest, current security situation in Afghanistan and bilateral cooperation in various fields.
According to a military spokesperson, the COAS said that Pakistan desired to maintain the tradition of bilateral engagement with all regional players and wished for enduring peace in the region.
Gen Bajwa reiterated the need for global convergence on Afghanistan for avoiding a humanitarian crisis and coordinated efforts for economic uplift of the Afghan people. He re-emphasised that “peace in Afghanistan means peace in Pakistan”.
Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2021