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March 4, 2020

After first phase of Afghan peace: Pakistan, US need to broaden partnership

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March 4, 2020

WASHINGTON: Since achieving the first phase of political resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan, the United States and Pakistan both need to focus on broadening their partnership, said Ali Jahangir Siddiqui, Pakistan’s Ambassador at Large for Foreign Investment.

Addressing a special session held at the Middle East Institute, a local think tank, Ambassador Siddiqui reminded the audience present at the event that the US Pakistan partnership had been broad-based covering economic and trade relationship as well as cooperation education and cultural exchange.

“Over the years, this partnership has shaped other global bilateral interactions as well as regional political developments. Whether it was brokering the US-China political relationship, assisting in the fight against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan or more recently counterterrorism cooperation, the US-Pakistan relationship has played a crucial role in maintaining global peace and stability,” Ambassador Siddiqui said. The event Siddiqui addressed was titled, “Leveraging a moment of change: Pathways to sustainable US-Pakistan relationship.” The event was held to launch a policy paper that explores a range of ideas and concrete proposals designed to move the relationship in a positive and stable direction. These recommendations were proposed by an expert group of academics, policy analysts and retired government officials.

Ambassador Siddiqui said that from the mid-2000s the relationship had gone from being multifaceted to being security-focused. “This limited the potential of a relationship that has much to give to both partners,” Siddiqui further said, Pakistan’s offering of tourism, music, art, ancient civilization, literature and crucially, business opportunity, had been overshadowed by a security narrative. He called it a loss to both sides.

Due to the context of the Afghan war, the relationship had become one that was driven by security matters with all other areas of cooperation becoming deemphasized, he said. “Pakistan clearly recognized that we needed to broaden the relationship but we understood where the priorities lay for the US Administration,” Siddiqui further added. He called the policy paper important and timely that represents a broad, consensus view of how the foreign policy community in Washington thinks about the importance of this bilateral relationship, as well as what could serve as building blocks for a strong partnership between the two countries, he said. “Washington is a busy place. The Administration and Capitol Hill have much on their plate especially in an election year and within the small space for foreign policy there is much to cover,” he said hoping that through the focused study, the Middle East Institute would assist US foreign policy officials to carve out the foundation of a close and mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries. “A relationship that is built on principles of respect, partnership and profit for the benefit of both our peoples,” Siddiqui said.