ISLAMABAD: US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R Sherman said the Biden administration was well aware of Pakistan’s concerns and was closely looking at the situation.
Talking to the editors here on Friday , Sherman said she believed President Joe Biden will soon talk to Prime Minister Imran Khan. “We have an idea that every country wants to have a telephone conversation with US President. I am sure that this conversation will be held with Imran Khan soon.”
“I am sure that this contact will take place soon, so I don’t think it should mean anything else,” she said while replying to another question, the media reports.
“I don’t think there is a need for more speculation about not talking on the telephone so far. As far as the Congress is concerned, we have hundreds of bills and thousands of amendments. We are looking into the matter and understand Pakistan’s concerns and reservations,” she said.
Replying to a question about a bill presented in September by 22 Republican senators targeting Pakistan, Sherman said, “We get hundreds of bills; thousands of people are behind them but we are well aware of Pakistan’s concerns and are closely looking at the situation”.
Mariana Baabar adds: Pakistan sent a crystal clear message to the US that it was committed to forging a broad-based, long-term and sustainable relationship, anchored in economic cooperation, regional connectivity, and peace in the region.
Afghanistan was only one issue amongst several in their bilateral relations and the key was in holding regular and structured dialogue process between them, which in turn was vital for promoting common interests and advancing shared regional objectives.
The United States emphasized the importance of long-standing relationship between Pakistan and the US and agreed to continue close communication and coordination on the situation in Afghanistan, security and counter-terrorism, trade and investment, climate change, economic cooperation, and regional connectivity.
These views were brought up by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and US Deputy Secretary of State Ms. Wendy R. Sherman during delegation level talks at the Foreign Office. Topic of discussions included Afghanistan, bilateral relations and regional peace and stability.
Ms Sherman arrived in Islamabad on Thursday night from India and went straight into delegation level talks with the National Security Advisor, Moeed Yusuf. In a tweet, the State Department spokesman tweeted that in her meeting with the NSA Moeed Yusuf, both sides discussed developments in Afghanistan and ways to advance cooperation across the bilateral relationship. She was accompanied during the talks by Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Mr. Donald Lu. Views, while the foreign minister was assisted by his Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood and other senior officers.
Before coming to Islamabad, Ms Sherman while speaking in Mumbai had made it very clear that the United States was not interested in a broad relationship with Pakistan, beyond Afghanistan. “My visit to Pakistan is for a very specific narrow purpose and the United States does not see itself building a broad relationship with Pakistan and we have no interest in returning to days of hyphenated (India and Pakistan). That is not where we are. That is not where we’re going to be”.
In a telling state of the tense bilateral relations, Ms Sherman on her arrival at the Foreign Office received a cold reception as she stepped out of her car, where instead of her counterpart, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood, she was received by a mid-level diplomat, DG Americas. Diplomatic sources told The News that the government was shocked at some of the statements Ms Sherman had made in Mumbai on Thursday, very critical, very undiplomatic, before she flew into Islamabad. “My visit to Pakistan in the context of Afghanistan is in a bid to make sure that Pakistan has the capabilities to ensure everybody’s security, including India’s and the US”, she said as she left India.
Neither Qureshi nor Moeed Yusuf tweeted about their meetings with Ms Sherman as they normally do after meeting visiting dignitaries. However, Ms Sherman tweeted, “I met today with Pakistan Foreign Minister to discuss Afghanistan’s future and the important and long standing US-Pakistan relationship. We look forward to continuing to address pressing regional and global challenges”.
As regards the situation in Afghanistan, the foreign minister stressed that there was a fundamental convergence between Pakistan and the United States on the need for a peaceful settlement. He expressed hope that the new setup in Afghanistan would make concerted efforts for peace and stability as well as work towards the betterment of the lives of all Afghan people.
The foreign minister noted that an inclusive and broad-based political structure reflecting the ethnic diversity of Afghan society was essential for Afghanistan’s stability and progress. “He also stressed that the current situation required positive engagement of the international community, urgent provision of humanitarian assistance, release of Afghan financial resources, and measures to help build a sustainable economy to alleviate the sufferings of the Afghan people”, added the Foreign Office.
Highlighting the grave human rights situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the foreign minister emphasized the importance of peacefully resolving the Jammu and Kashmir dispute for durable peace and stability in South Asia.
Mumtaz Alvi adds: The 34th National Security Committee (NSC) meeting noted with concern that the evolving situation in the region was extremely complex and that any instability in Afghanistan could have severe implications for Pakistan.
However, it is understood that the top forum discussed other matters of national security and other related issues also as Afghanistan struggles to deal with the evolving situation, both political and humanitarian.
Agreeing with the viewpoint that the situation was extremely complex, Prime Minister Imran Khan stressed the need for a coordinated policy effort and directed establishment of a dedicated cell to synergise various streams of efforts on Afghanistan across the government, including international coordination for humanitarian assistance and effective border management to prevent any negative spillover into Pakistan.
The NSC was convened to discuss the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, attended by relevant federal cabinet members, all services chiefs, and heads of intelligence services, says the Prime Minister’s Office.
The PM received a detailed briefing on the evolving regional security situation, particularly the recent developments in Afghanistan and their possible impact on Pakistan.
The committee reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to a peaceful, stable and sovereign Afghanistan. The participants noted, with concern, the dire humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and emphasised urgent need for the international community to provide assistance to avert a humanitarian crisis.
The importance of international coordination on constructive political and economic engagement with the interim government in Afghanistan was also highlighted during the deliberations.
The PM expressed satisfaction over Pakistan’s support to the international evacuation efforts from Afghanistan and noted that the entire world had recognised Pakistan’s positive contribution.
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