WASHINGTON: With the United States having nearly completed the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan, an inclusive political settlement in the war-torn country would best serve Pakistan and the U.S.’ shared security interests in the region, Pakistani Ambassador in Washington Asad Majeed Khan has said. Speaking at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), where he was invited for a discussion on ‘The Next Chapter in Pakistan-US relations’, he cited Afghanistan as an area of convergence between Islamabad and Washington as both sides wanted to see a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan. “This is why it was important to invest in the Afghan peace process at this critical time,” Ambassador Khan said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, at the State Department, Spokesman Ned Price called Pakistan “an important partner” in various fronts and said that both the countries have shared interests in peace and stability in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan has been helpful in – recently when it comes to this shared interest. Our shared interests go well beyond that: broader counterterrorism interests as well, not to mention the people-to-people ties that unite our two countries,” the spokesman said in response to a question at the daily news briefing.
The United States, he said, was going to work very closely to ensure that Afghanistan’s neighbours play constructive role in promoting a peaceful settlement.
In his remarks at the USIP event, which was moderated by Richard Olson, a former US ambassador to Pakistan, the Pakistani envoy said that the ‘Extended Troika’ declarations issued by Pakistan, China, Russia, and the United States could serve as a template for coordinated messaging by the key regional and international stakeholders on the need for a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan.
Peace in Afghanistan is winnable and the peace process is a shared responsibility, Ambassador Khan said.
Commenting on Pakistan’s focus on geo-economics, he said that the Pakistani government wanted to leverage Pakistan’s location and connectivity infrastructure to promote regional integration and growth.
Ambassador Khan said that the United States remained the largest market for Pakistan exports, and underlined Islamabad’s desire to enhance bilateral cooperation in energy, agriculture, and technology sectors. Pakistan, he said, is well-placed in the region to be an important part of the global supply chain.
On India-Pakistan relations, Ambassador Khan said that Prime Minister Imran Khan is desirous of good relations with India but the BJP government led by Prime Minister Modi has pursued an extremist and anti-Pakistan agenda that has made the normalization of ties very difficult.
On Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), the Pakistani envoy said that the Kashmir dispute should be resolved according to the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir as promised to them by the International community in the United Nations Security Council resolutions.