‘Let bygones be bygones’: PM Shehbaz says US-Pakistan relations should not be tied with other countries

Published September 29, 2022
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaks at the US Embassy in Islamabad on Thursday. — Photo by APP
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaks at the US Embassy in Islamabad on Thursday. — Photo by APP

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday said that Pakistan’s relations with the United States stood “on their own” and should not be seen through the “prism of Afghanistan” or the “lens of China”.

“Let bygones be bygones,” the premier said at a diplomatic reception held at the US embassy in Islamabad to commemorate the 75 years of relations between Pakistan and the US.

“As I said, there will be a lot what your [US] side will want to say […] but as long as we renew this friendship with sincere and serious dialogue, I can assure you that nothing will go wrong.”

PM Shehbaz said that during the long journey of 75 years, Pakistan-US relations “touched their apex of glory but there were also several dips”. “We know the reasons but this is not the right time to recall them.

“I want to say this very sincerely today that we want to build and reset these relations back to normal on the basis of trust, respect, and mutual understanding,” he said.

Shehbaz stressed that it was time for the two countries to move forward and find ways to warm up the relationship to levels seen in the past.

Talking about support and aid from the US over the years, the prime minister expressed regret that aid worth $32 billion contributed by the country in the past was not spent “in the right direction”.

“Had we used this aid in a well-planned and properly supervised [manner] we would have broken our begging bowl. But then there is no point in crying over broken bowls.”

But now, Shehbaz underlined that Pakistan wanted to stand on its own feet now.

The prime minister also recalled that during his visit to New York, he met US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken who assured him of support for the flood-affected people.

He went on to say that the floods in Pakistan this year were a “disaster beyond means”.

“As we speak, 4m acre area where standing crops of cotton, rice, sugarcane and date [stood are] all gone. 1,600 people have left this world along with 400 children. More than a million mud houses have been absolutely thrown into the Arabian Sea.

“Life savings of people have gone away. They are waiting under open skies for help and it is our duty to serve them. But whatever we do is not enough,” he highlighted.

The yawning gap between demand and supply, Shehbaz highlighted, was widening by the hour and this was just the first phase.

“The final phase of reconstruction and rehabilitation is yet to come. But that costs money and therefore, I again request you […] that now we need the international community to stand by us and support us.”

He clarified that the government was not asking for money but relief, funds for rebuilding the infrastructure, jobs, livelihoods, commerce, trade, and exports.

“What I am saying is that we need to go back to those wonderful times where our relations with the US weren’t beholden to others but stood on their own,” Shehbaz concluded.

US reiterates support for rehabilitation of flood-hit areas

Earlier, US Ambassador Donald Blome, while addressing the ceremony, reiterated support for the rehabilitation of the flood-hit areas of the country.

He said that the people of the United States continue to stand with Pakistan, pointing out that the strength of Pakistan-US friendship was demonstrated by more than $66 million from the US in flood response for the country, according to a Radio Pakistan story.

Ambassador Blome said that over the past 75 years, the United States and Pakistan built a relationship based on mutual respect, shared goals and values.

Over the decades, he went on, more than $32 billion in US support benefited the country and improved the lives of the people.

Blome added that the rapidly changing world provided a pivotal opportunity to reframe relations between the two countries, expressing willingness to advance shared interests in trade, investment, clean energy, health, security, education, and other shared priorities.

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