ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Thursday that it desires objective, more balanced and broad-based relationships with the United States in the interest of the sovereignty and the political independence of both the countries, as US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman arrived on a two-day official visit for crucial talks.
Speaking at his weekly media briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson AsimI ftikhar Ahmad said that it is time for Pakistan-US relationship to move away from transitional relationship to a relationship that takes into account interests of both the countries.
He said that the two countries have many areas of shared interests and the cooperation between the two countries is a major factor of stability in South Asia.
The spokesperson’s statement comes a day ahead, the visiting US Deputy Secretary of State Sherman would hold talks with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf, and other top civil and military leadership today (Friday) on issues of mutual interest, regional situation particularly the latest development in Afghanistan.
Responding to a question about the statements by some US lawmakers during Congressional hearings and the proposed bill in the US Senate seeking sanctions on Taliban and their supporters, the spokesperson said that these statements do not reflect the official position of the US with regard to Pakistan’s contribution to the regional peace including the Afghan peace process.
However, he added that these views are inconsistent with the reality of the ongoing cooperation between Pakistan and the United States, especially on Afghanistan.
“Pakistan and the United States are maintaining high-level of engagements on a broad range of bilateral and regional issues, including the situation in Afghanistan. Pakistan looks forward to the visit of US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and a host of issues will be discussed during her visit,” he added.
About human rights violations in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), he said that the issue will also be raised with the US Deputy Secretary of State, adding that being the permanent member of the UN Security Council, the US has special responsibility in addressing the grave concerns about the human rights violations in the IIOJK.
To another question about Indian military leadership’s remarks against Pakistan, he said that India is pursing hostile policies towards Pakistan and such statements are actually aimed at diverting attention of the international community from grave human rights violations in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir and the treatment meted out to minorities in India.
“As far as preparedness of Pakistan is concerned, let me reiterate that Pakistan has all the capabilities and the national resolve, together with the armed forces, to respond to any misadventure by India,” he warned.
Responding to another query, the spokesperson dispelled the impression that work on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been stopped, adding that during the recent JJC meeting there was high-level commitment for the continuation and completion of the projects under the CPEC.
About the problems being faced by Pakistani students’ return to China, he said that Pakistan and China have robust bilateral cooperation, including people-to-people contacts and exchanges in the field of education.
He said China is a major destination for Pakistani students and over 28,000 Pakistani students are currently studying in China, and Pakistan is one of the biggest recipients of Chinese scholarships.
He said that the two countries attach great importance to the wellbeing and the continued education of Pakistani students.
“We believe that these students are our asset for our time-tested friendship and a bridge between our two countries,” he said, adding that China and Pakistan are constantly engaged in resolving the issue of return of Pakistani students to China and this matter has been discussed at various levels with the Chinese authorities.
He said we understand the measures taken by China to curtail the spread of the virus and we are also exploring the possibility of addressing the issues of research, lab work, and scholarships with relevant Pakistani and Chinese authorities and institutions. He, however, urged Pakistani students, enrolled in Chinese educational institutions to continue attending their online classes.
To another query about a purported letter sent to Pakistan’s mission in Washington by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi allegedly to have expressed anger over its alleged inability to arrange a telephonic call between Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Joe Biden, he said that the Foreign Office has already issued a rebuttal, terming the letter as fake.
To another query about the status of talks with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), he expressed his inability to share any update, saying that the prime minister has already given a statement recently. However, he added that Pakistan has been constantly sharing its concerns over the banned TTP’s presence in Afghanistan with the Afghan leadership. .
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021