WASHINGTON: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Sunday said Pakistan desires to advance close relations with both the United States (US) and China, underscoring that PM Imran Khan-led administration is committed to safeguarding the country’s national interests.
Talking to the Washington-based Pakistani journalists, Foreign Minister Qureshi said, “both relations are very important.”
“China is important for Pakistan. And the United States is also important. We will engage with both,” he said.
FM Qureshi also said that Islamabad wants peace and security in Afghanistan since it is in the country’s own interests. Pakistan, he said, will use “whatever influence” it has to push forward Afghan reconciliation talks.
“We need peace in Afghanistan. This is what Pakistan needs,” FM Qureshi said at the start of his visit to the US during which he will address the UN General Assembly session in New York and also meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The foreign minster’s comments follow Secretary Pompeo’s visit to Pakistan, during which he said the US wanted to reset its relations with Pakistan. The relations between the two countries suffered a series of setback after the Trump Administration’s statements implicated Pakistan for the precarious security situation in Afghanistan and suspended security assistance. Pakistan has denied the charge that it allows Afghan Taliban to operate from its territory.
The foreign minister said he looks forward to discussing relations with the top US diplomat and find out convergences.
He was asked about the future of Pakistan’s relations with the US and China.
“With China, Pakistan is engaged in a very important economic relationship,” Qureshi noted in reference to the massive China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that connects China to the oil-rich Gulf countries.
With the US, the foreign minister said, Pakistan is engaged to help bring peace to the region.
Therefore, he said, Pakistan will take forward its relations with both the US and China.
However, Qureshi said it would be wrong to pin blame for the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan on Pakistan as establishing peace in Afghanistan is a shared responsibility.
“Pakistan is committed to fulfilling its responsibility to restore peace in Afghanistan. But is it Pakistan’s responsibility alone to secure Afghanistan? Are there no other countries in the region that have interest and clout there?”
At the same time, the foreign minister argued that Afghanistan has to connect with its own people.
He also highlighted Pakistan’s pivotal role in downgrading al-Qaeda threat to American security, and said Pakistani nation has offered huge sacrifices in the fight against terrorists.
There is a consensus in Pakistan that the country should fight terrorism, he said, adding that it is in Pakistan’s interest to fight terror.
“If the US is safe today, Pakistan has played an important role. toward that end.”
Qureshi will head to New York on Monday to attend the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) which opened on September 18 where he will lead Pakistan’s delegation.
He will have around 40 engagements, including over 20 bilateral meetings with his counterparts from different countries. Qureshi will address to the UNGA on September 29.