- Says fence along Pak-Afghan border clear sign of Pakistan’s interest in ending regional conflict
WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States (US) Ali Jehangir Siddiqui Tuesday said that Pakistan wants peace in Afghanistan and solution to the conflict.
Siddiqui said this during an interview in Washington D.C.
The envoy said that peace in Afghanistan was his top policy priority, adding that Pakistan is working on a second portion of a fence at its border with its war-ravaged neighbour [Afghanistan]. The fence is a clear sign of Pakistan’s interest in ending the regional conflict and will help Pakistan and Afghanistan equally in doing so, Siddiqui said.
“Until we complete this fence, it’s unreasonable to say we aren’t doing anything,” he said.
Brushing aside criticism from certain circles on Sino-Pak ties, he said that every country can maintain relations with many key partners at a time. When Pakistan does not see US-India relation from some specific angle, then Sino-Pak relations should also not be seen through some specific angle.
The ambassador said that importing more natural gas from the US is important for diversifying Pakistan’s energy supply while expanding trade relations.
He said that buying more liquefied natural gas from the US will allow Pakistan to bolster its exports while maintaining the “fairness” and “parity” that Pakistan and US President Donald Trump’s administration seek.
“Pakistan is on its way to becoming one of the world’s largest gas importers, and the US is well on its way to becoming the world’s largest LNG exporter,” Siddiqui said, adding that “a lot of growth in our trade relations can occur.”
Siddiqui, who took charge in June, said that a “major energy shortage” has hobbled Pakistan’s economy, including textiles that are its prime export. Over time, more energy could help Pakistan produce more exports from agriculture to software, he said, while still keeping US-Pakistan trade in balance.
Trade between the US and Pakistan has stalled at about $5.5 billion in goods a year over the past decade. The top US exports to Pakistan are machinery and aircraft, while it imports mainly textiles and leather products.
The country’s economic imbalance, dwindling foreign reserves and widening current account and trade deficits require “structural change,” according to Ambassador Siddiqui, who is a former banker and private equity executive who’s a graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.