Stop looking at Pakistan through Afghanistan prism, FM tells US

Says US welcome to have economic bases in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said the United States maintaining a transactional relationship with Pakistan ‘won’t work’ any longer, adding that it is in the best interest of the US to remain engaged with Pakistan.

In an interview published in international media on Wednesday, Qureshi spoke at length about how Pakistan and the United States could ‘build’ their bilateral relationship.

“Now if you just come up with a transactional relationship, it won’t work. You can’t just keep on saying, ‘Afghanistan, Afghanistan, Afghanistan.’ There’s a bilateral side to us as well,” the foreign minister said, “Stop looking at us through the Afghanistan prism.”

He added, “Pakistan will remain relevant to the US, even if they leave Afghanistan. Our geostrategic location is important. We have 200 million people. We are important in the OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation]. We are an atomic power. They will need us, down the line. So it’s better to remain engaged with Pakistan.”

Speaking about areas in which the two nations could cooperate, the foreign minister listed trade, investment, climate, “convergence in peace and stability in Afghanistan, even with India,” information technology, energy, agriculture and the diaspora.

“There are a lot of places to converge with the US,” Qureshi said. “We need investments, we need technology transfer, but the US is not giving us either. China is giving us that, and more concessions. Of course, China will move in where you don’t. But, we don’t want to fall into any camp. However, China is fulfilling our needs. We’ve made special economic zones. There are no restrictions there. Why doesn’t the US come and invest there? Are we stopping the US? No.”

When asked if Pakistan is willing to offer a military base to the United States, Qureshi said: “They are welcome to have economic bases in Pakistan.”

On whether China had its eyes on basing in the port city of Gwadar, the foreign minister said: “I don’t have any understanding of any basing [for the Chinese navy]. But how can you predict the future?”

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