ISLAMABAD: US Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Asia Alice Wells has appreciated the steps taken by Pakistan to advance the Afghan peace process.
The US diplomat, in a media briefing after her visit to three South Asian nations — Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka — said, “Pakistan has important leverage to promote lasting security and stability in Afghanistan.”
She said that she held several meetings in Pakistan with government, military, civil society, and business leaders. “At the top of the agenda was understanding how we can grow our bilateral relationship commensurate with the cooperation that we are achieving in promoting peace in Afghanistan and regional stability,” she added.
Talking about the Afghanistan peace deal, she said that US Ambassador Khalilzad and his team were in Doha to encourage the Taliban to make a commitment toward a reduction in use of force that would allow Afghans to sit at a negotiating table.
Wells also highlighted progress in US-Pakistan bilateral relations and said, “We’ve seen obvious progress in our relations with Pakistan, from the high-level engagement such as the US president’s warm and constructive meeting with Prime Minister Khan at Davos to the restoration of the International Military Education and Training programmes.”
“We’re looking forward to welcoming 10 Pakistani buyer delegations to the United States and five regional trade shows in 2020, which will build deeper relationships between US and Pakistani firms.”
She added that Prime Minister Khan’s economic reform efforts contributed to the World Bank identifying it as one of the top 10 reformers globally in 2019.
Talking about the FATF grey list, she welcomed Islamabad’s efforts to meet its counter-terrorism financing obligations under the Financial Action Task Force.
“We strongly encourage Pakistan to work with FATF and the international community to fully satisfy its action plan commitments. Completion of the FATF action plan is critical to Pakistan’s economic reform efforts, including its IMF programme,” she said.
In response to a question about Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s statement seeking the US help for Pakistan’s removal from the grey list, she said that the FATF is a technical process.
“There has been an action plan that was presented to Pakistan. It’s a question of fulfilling the requirements that have been spelled out and that are asked of all countries in the international system. So it’s not a political process, but we certainly support and stand ready to assist Pakistan as it implements these obligations.”