Afghan endgame and Pakistan

Need to give priority to national interest

Foreign Minister ShahMahmood Qureshi, accompanied by the Foreign Secretary and other senior officials, is already in China where he has been joined by DG ISI Lt Gen Faiz Hameed also. Another delegation comprising National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf and the DG ISI is expected in Washington next week for talks with theira US counterparts.

Mr Qureshi’s unguarded statement regarding the Dasu incident had created misunderstandings with China which decided to send its own investigation team to the scene of the killings. Meanwhile another minister in the PTI cabinet announced that the tragic deaths occurred due to a terrorist attack, showing once again that in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet one hand does not know what the other is doing. The misunderstanding had resulted in the Chinese company at Dasu notifying the stoppage of work and the dismissal of Pakistani labour. A crucial meeting on the CPEC was also postponed. While the work on Dasu has yet to start, the dismissal letter was withdrawn soon after.

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The delegation to the USA is to proceed next week. Earlier in April Mr Qureshi had visited Washing where he had spoken at a think tank and met members of the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. Mr Qureshi had stressed the need for a broad-based strategic partnership that looks after the interests of both countries and discussed the importance of regional peace and security in South Asia. The same month Dr Yusuf met US NSA Jake Sullivan and both reportedly held positive discussions on a range of issues. However the categorical statement by Mr Khan that Pakistan would “absolutely not” allow any bases and use of its territory to the USA for any sort of action inside Afghanistan was unnecessary, all the more so as the US had made no such demand.

The major issue the two delegations will discuss in Beijing and Washington would be the Taliban’s continuous advance and increase in the area under their control. While hostility between the USA and China is continuously on the rise, Pakistan is required to perform a balancing act. While further strengthening relations with China, it has to maintain friendly relations with the USA also. Pakistan should advocate a policy that suits the interest of Pakistan, the Afghan people and neighbouring countries best.

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The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]

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