Pakistan wants to take US ties beyond counter-terrorism, Afghanistan: Qureshi

NEW YORK: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Tuesday said that as the US mission in Afghanistan was over, Pakistan wanted to take its bilateral ties beyond counter terrorism and Afghanistan, while keeping them both among the priorities.

“Now that the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan is over, we want to take our relationship beyond counterterrorism and Afghanistan—which, of course, would remain priorities… In short, we have all the ingredients in place to build a more substantive and broad-based relationship that is anchored in trade, investment, and people-to-people linkages,” the foreign minister said in a conversation at Council on Foreign Relations.

The foreign minister, who is currently in New York to attend the UN General Assembly session, said for Pakistan, the US remained an important partner.

It was the first physical session at the CFR after a hiatus of 18 months and Foreign Minister Qureshi was the first guest invited to the first such event held both physically and virtually.

Qureshi said the US was still Pakistan’s largest export market and a major source of foreign remittances.

He said the talented young Pakistanis continue to gravitate towards American college campuses and Silicon Valley incubators. Finally, we have a large and politically engaged Pakistani American community that is a bridge between our two countries, he added.

He said Pak-US engagement had often been narrowly framed, dictated either by short-term security interests or the imperative to deal with a common challenge. “We want to break out of this pattern,” he remarked.

Qureshi said after September 11 terrorist attacks, Pakistan and the US came together to decimate Al Qaeda’s core leadership and architecture. The bilateral cooperation produced results, leading President Biden to conclude earlier this year that the United States had achieved its core objective in Afghanistan.

The foreign minister told the gathering that as Pakistan shifted its focus towards “geo-economics,” the country wanted to leverage its connectivity infrastructure—including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor—to enhance regional trade and economic integration. Pakistan saw the United States as an important partner in this regard, Qureshi added.

The foreign minister said Pakistan is an over 220 million people market, Pakistan’s young but exciting start-up tech culture showcased its untapped investment potential. With the government’s climate-friendly energy policies, there are now tremendous opportunities for U.S. companies that specialize in renewable and clean energy.

Ultimately, an economically strong Pakistan can be an anchor of stability in a region that has suffered through 40 years of war in Afghanistan, the minister remarked. TF Report

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