Civil govt main ‘interlocutor’ in Washington-Islamabad ties: State Dept

Published October 12, 2022
In this file photo, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks during a news briefing at the department in Washington, US on Feb 9, 2021. — Reuters/File
In this file photo, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price speaks during a news briefing at the department in Washington, US on Feb 9, 2021. — Reuters/File

WASHINGTON: While Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman met with Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa during his visit to Washington last week, the civilian government in Pakistan remains the principal “interlocutor” in bilateral ties, the US State Department said on Tuesday.

At a news briefing in Washington, spokesperson Ned Price also dismissed rumors about misappropriation of flood relief funds, saying that the US closely monitors the aids it sends to a disaster-hit region.

Responding to a question, he said that Deputy Secretary Sherman “did have the opportunity” to meet Gen Bajwa in Washington last week.

“We value our long-standing cooperation with Pakistan. There are a number of areas where our interests are aligned,” he said, adding that Afghanistan and the security challenges that confront the region “are always there when we have high-level meetings with our Pakistani counterparts”.

Also read: Gen Bajwa's US visit seen as part of efforts to reset ties

The US and Pakistan, he said, “have a number of shared interests … there are security interests, there are economic interests, there are people-to-people ties and connections as well.”

Refraining from mentioning which of these interests were discussed in the Bajwa-Sherman meeting, he said that “Pakistan has a civilian government that is democratically elected and that’s our (principal) interlocutor.”

Responding to a question on rumours of misappropriation of relief funds, Mr Price said: “This is something we take very seriously, not only in Pakistan but anywhere around the world where American taxpayer dollars are implicated and where there is an urgent humanitarian interest at stake, which is clearly the case in terms of response to the flooding in Pakistan.”

The US government, he said, sends inspection teams to such areas to monitor the situation and has done so in Pakistan too where one such team visited 10 flood-affected areas in Balochistan last month.

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2022

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