WASHINGTON, Jul 19 (APP): Pakistan has called for re-establishing the strategic balance in South Asia and for moving the region towards peace by promoting a settlement of the decades-old, UN-recognized Kashmir dispute through diplomacy.
“It is important that the strategic balance in South Asia is re-established, along with a quest for peace, so that the region does not remain a potential tinderbox,” Masood Khan, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, told a Conference on Diplomacy for Development in Houston, Texas.
“We should resort to bilateral, third party and multilateral diplomacy to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and ensure nuclear stability,” the Pakistani envoy said in his remarks on: The Future of Pakistan-US Relations: A Way Forward.
The conference, at which senior State Department official Elizabeth Horst was among the noted speakers, was organized by the International Academy of Letters, a think-tank seeking to build bridges through cultural & public diplomacy.
Pointing out that the US had chosen friends within the setting of the Indo-Pacific Strategy, Ambassador Masood Khan noted that “their (US friends) declared vectors of invest, align and compete, we are told are not designed to alienate or confront other countries in the region and beyond.”
On its part, he said Pakistan had pursued connectivity through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to leverage its economic geography, declaring, “Our defence and economic ties with China will continue.”
At the same time, he said, Pakistan was working with the US to ensure vigorous growth of security and economic relations, while welcoming Washington’s enhanced participation in the country’s infrastructure development, energy projects, agriculture, industry and supply chains.
“The residual restrictions under Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) on Pakistan’s acquisition of US military articles and technology should be eased and procurements expedited to buttress our defense capability,” Ambassador Masood Khan said.
The Pakistani envoy also applauded the high-level contacts between the US and China to reduce stress in their bilateral relations.
Pakistan and the US, he said, had agreed to make joint efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism, with a firm resolve to counter regional and global threats.
Referring to TTP’s resurgence, he said, “We are facing a potent and deadly threat from Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, equipped with the most sophisticated weapons and military equipment left behind by the US forces.
Their attacks from Afghan soil have killed more than 1200 security personnel and civilians.
We oppose this wave of terrorism and will dismantle its network,” the Pakistani envoy said, while calling for starting US counter-terrorism programmes for Pakistan’s capacity enhancement.
“Stabilization of Afghanistan is important for Pakistan and the US; and we have welcomed the United States’ direct contacts with the Afghan cabinet ministers, in addition to ours, even as we have urged the Afghan Interim Government to restore women’s rights to education and employment,” Masood Khan added.
He also profusely thanked the Biden administration for its help to Pakistan in dealing with the devastating impacts of last year’s floods.
Addressing himself to the Pakistani-American diaspora, the ambassador called it a bridge, a catalyst and a launching pad for Pak-US relations.
Earlier, Ms. Horst, the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, spoke about the growing Islamabad-Washington relations, saying they stood on their own– not viewed through the lens of Afghanistan, India or China.
Without naming anyone, the State Department official, said, “I also want to take this moment to address disinformation about the United States’ role in Pakistani politics. We do not let propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation get in the way of any bilateral relationship, including our valued partnership with Pakistan.
“The United States does not have a position on one political candidate or party versus another. We support democratic principles, freedom of expression, and rule of law equally and around the world,” she said.
“Allegations against Assistant Secretary Don Lu are categorically false and we have communicated this publicly and privately. We are prepared to work with any government chosen by the Pakistani people,” she added.