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February 21, 2015

‘US not abandoning Pakistan’


February 21, 2015

speakers ruled out the possibility of the US abandoning Pakistan in near future, despite being locked in a rather inconvenient relationship, in a session at the first day of Lahore Literary Festival held at Alhamra Art Centre in Lahore on Thursday.
Lyse Doucet moderated the speakers Andrew Small, Laila Bokhari, Roger Cohen, Rashed Rehman and Salil Tripathi during the session titled ‘No Permanent Friends Or Enemies’.
Lyse Doucet, a Canadian journalist and the BBC’s Chief International Correspondent, started the session with the question, ‘What next after February, 1989?’, she asked the US embassy after the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. ‘Nothing, USSR is out of Afghanistan’, she got the answer, she told. She elaborated that Pakistan acted as a frontline state as an American Ally during Afghan Jihad and the relations between both soured afterwards. But, the preceding events changed the perspective of the US and it again had to re-establish its relations with Pakistan, she added.
She said America had no permanent friends and enemies and both the countries were again at the crossroads. On which, Rashed Rahman, a veteran Pakistani journalist, said that throughout the history, there had never been permanent friends or enemies between the states and the nations firmed grip after the emergence of the concept of ‘nation-states’ during 18th country. He said he thought the new issues had arisen and he did not see any possibility of ending of relations between the US and Pakistan.
He said that uncertainty prevailed on the future of Afghanistan. And Pakistan matters the most in case of Afghanistan, he maintained. Moreover, he said that unrest in Europe and the straining relations between different powers also made Pakistan important for the US. Roger Cohen, a journalist, author and columnist for The New York Times and International Herald Tribune, added that it was unthinkable that the US would turn its eyes from Pakistan

as the US had invested much in the region. He said both sides were frustrated with each other’s role. Salil Tripathi, director of policy at the Institute for Human Rights and Business based in London explained the issue in a different perspective and said relations between the US and China were a matter of discussion. China and the US had trade and economic relations more than anyone else. He said China was also concerned over the mess after leaving of the US in Afghanistan, Middle-East etc. Laila Bokhari said the US and the West were there and would stay there; they could not afford to leave the region. She claimed that the authorities here too even wanted them to stay there by giving reference of the help rendered by the US and the West during floods in 2010 and 2011 in Pakistan. She said they were keeping an eye on Pakistan fearing that it did not become Afghanistan. However, there was a serious concern and demand that why Pakistan did not put its house in order.

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