Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday urged the United States to open its markets to Pakistani goods for supporting Pakistan’s economic recovery and sustained development.
“We need trade, not just aid,” he told a distinguished gathering at Brookings Institute, a Washington-based think-tank, as the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue enters its second day. “We do not seek dependency, we seek economic viability,” the foreign minister said in a wide-ranging speech in which he also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to fight extremism and terrorism.
Stating that economic growth was its priority, the foreign minister said, “We need the US to open up its markets to our products, like the European Union has resolved to do, so that our factories can create jobs for our people, and give young Pakistanis hope for their futures.”
He also urged the US to pass legislation for Reconstruction Opportunity Zones for FATA as also a Free Trade Agreement with Pakistan. Many analysts believe the moment for the project has passed as it has lagged and stagnanted since it was first propose many years ago.
Stating that US-Pakistan relations were “never so close”, Qureshi said, “What we are trying to create is a long term, mature and mutually beneficial partnership.” In this regard, he cited the $7.5 billion Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill aimed at building bridges with the people of Pakistan. While stressing that Pakistan’s policies were guided by its national interests, Qureshi made the following points:
(1) There is no wavering in Pakistan’s resolve to fight extremism and terrorism;
(2) The global fight against terrorism has advanced thus far, essentially, on the basis of international cooperation. Actions are required that reinforce, and not undercut, such counter-terrorism cooperation.
(3) Pakistan has a vital stake in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. Respect for Pakistan’s legitimate concerns and solutions on the basis of common interests would be most durable.
“I have no doubt that we can surmount any momentary challenge with clarity and sensitivity about our respective commitments, concerns and core interests,” the foreign minister said. The foreign minister also strongly pleaded for justice for the Kashmiri people struggling for their freedom, and urged the United States in resolving the dispute. Pakistan deep interest in a peaceful and stable South Asia was endangered by recent events in Kashmir, he said.
“Any person of conscience cannot ignore the use of brute force against defenceless Kashmiri youth,” he said, noting that more than 100 people, mostly teenagers, have been killed by Indian security forces. “Their mothers are rightly bewildered at the deafening silence of the international community,” he told the audience.
“Wisdom proposes that the aspirations of any people cannot be suppressed by the use of force, Qureshi said, adding, “Such will be with the legitimate rights of the Kashmiri people. The foreign minister also thanked the US for the generous help it provided for the victims of the devastating floods in Pakistan. He hoped that Washington’s help would continue in the rehabilitation and reconstruction phase.