ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that Pakistan desires a stable and broad-based relationship with the United States that is driven by economic interests.

Speaking at the Margalla Dialogue hosted by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) on Tuesday, Mr Qureshi said: “We value our longstanding relations with the United States. Looking towards the future, we do not want a transactional relationship with the US. We want multifaceted ties that are not susceptible to the vagaries of regional and international policies.”

The foreign minister during his lecture listed Pakistan’s priorities for ties with major countries, particularly those in the region.

FM says Islamabad-Moscow ‘trajectory contributing to stability’ in region

Relations between Islamabad and Washington have long been troubled but turned chillier since President Joe Biden came to office earlier this year because of his experiences from his previous term as vice president. The two sides have occasionally cooperated during this period, but it is clear that Washington is keen to limit the scope of ties to dealing with Afghanistan.

President Biden has so far not directly spoken to Prime Minister Imran Khan while Pakistan declined Washington’s invitation to the ‘Summit for Democracy’.

Referring to the present government’s policy of prioritising geo-economics in external ties, Mr Qureshi said Pakistan wants a relationship with the US that is in sync with its changed priority.

“Enhanced trade and investment ties with the US and cooperation in regard to regional connectivity can work to our mutual benefit,” he suggested.

He mentioned Pakistan’s growing ties with China as an example of how geo-economics was driving Pakistan’s foreign policy. “Our relations with China are resilient and poised to grow further. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), of which the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project, will leverage economic geography and connectivity of the three contiguous continents — Asia, Europe and Africa — ushering in prosperity for all global citizens,” he maintained.

On expanding contacts with Moscow, the foreign minister said they “opened doors for reinvigorated relations in the security and economic realms”. “The Pak-Russia trajectory is contributing to stability in the region and we will continue to strengthen it,” he added.

Mr Qureshi said Pakistan cannot unilaterally improve ties with India. “Pakistan’s quest for peace and geo-economic strength cannot be a solo performance. It takes two to tango,” he said while recalling that Islamabad’s peace overtures to Delhi were snubbed.

“Our eastern neighbour chose to close all doors on any kind of talks. What’s more, it took the most drastic militaristic steps to invade and lay siege to the disputed territory of Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), disenfranchise its 14 million people and brutalise them,” he said.

The foreign minister called on the United Nations and the international community at large to hold India accountable for its human rights abuses in occupied Kashmir. “Indian atrocities are too egregious to be masked by the veneer of secularism and democratic pretentions,” he said.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2021

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