KCFR holds webinar on US-Pak relations

KARACHI: A webinar was held on “Reset of US-Pakistan Relations” under the auspices of Karachi Council on Foreign Relations (KCFR).

KCR Board of Governors’ member Moin Fudda moderated the webinar.

Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Security and Strategic Planning Moeed Yusuf said, “We were now in a very different world due to the changed dynamics, The Pak-US relationship should focus on having peace in Afghanistan, partnership and mutual assistance for improvements in all area by leaving the past behind. For the Afghan peace process, it was important to reach the finish line. Pakistan has no issues with US-India partnership as long as there is objectivity and no negativity by India.”

Former US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter said that Pakistan must engage early with Biden’s administration to create a positive approach with a new style and focuss on playing the role of an economic and diplomatic player. “Quite a few US staff members on the Afghan and other foreign policy matters will be willing to solve multilateral matters.  There is a need to have new business areas like information technology in private sector engagement,” Munter said.

John Hopkins University’s Senior Research Professor Daniel Markey emphasised that bilateral mechanisms need to be developed. He said, “Opportunity areas are pandemic response, climate change, clean energy and nuclear diplomacy. US-India relationship will be derived from India’s minority protection approach and strategic competition with China. Only a responsible approach will avoid an India-Pak crisis in future. Business relationships need to be made in new commercial areas by unleashing the power of the youth in Pakistan and having partnerships and connectivity.”

In her analysis, IBA Professor Huma Baqai spelled out that President-elect Biden would have to do a tight rope walking to undertake a damage control due to recent events under the Trump presidency. “There is a need to have a “new relationship” with specific actions and Pakistan should not be paired with China. There is a mismatch on certain strategic matters between US and Pakistan, which needs to be addressed and Pakistan should not be considered a “contingent partner”,” she said.

In his concluding remarks, KCFR Chairman Ikram Sehgal said, “Pakistan wants to have a neutral stance with both Saudi Arabia and Iran, as we do not consider the Sunni and Shia differences as an issue. The US private sector can make a lot of money in Pakistan as there is untapped potential in the South along the coast from Karachi to Gwadar, which presents a golden opportunity. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shattered his relationships with all neighbouring countries, which is positive for Pakistan. The Afghan peace process is critical for Biden, who has a reputation of being a fair person, and Pakistan can play a major role.”

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