Positive signals are coming from Washington. The visit of US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and meetings with Pakistani leadership is an encouraging step to improve the trust between the two nations. She is one of only a handful of Muslim members of Congress, a Somali-born Muslim-American immigrant who represents Minnesota in the US House of Representatives. It was the first high-level visit by a member of the US Congress since a new coalition government came into power in Islamabad.
She also met with President Arif Alvi at his office. Alvi said in the statement that Pakistan values its longstanding relationship with the US and hoped the “constructive engagements between the two countries would promote peace and development in the region”. Alvi emphasized the need for further improving bilateral relations between the two countries.
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The statement said
The statement quoted Omar as saying that both countries had “huge potential to improve and strengthen relations”. It also said Omar “appreciated the role played by Pakistan” in combating Islamophobia. Pakistan was key to getting the UN General Assembly to approve a resolution setting March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. The resolution emphasizes the right to freedom of religion and belief and recalls a 1981 resolution calling for “the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief.”
She also met with Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif. In a statement released by Sharif’s office, the prime minister said he appreciated Omar’s “courage of convictions and her political struggle”. Sharif said Pakistan valued its longstanding relationship with the US and wanted to further deepen bilateral cooperation based on mutual respect, trust, and equality.
Later, she visited Pakistan’s foreign ministry, where she met with the minister of state for foreign affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar. Pakistan has been a key US ally in the so-called war on terror since the September 11, 2001, attacks. Pakistan earned non-NATO close ally status too. During the Cold war era, Pakistan stood with the US and during the former USSR invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s, it played a vital role.
Pakistan’s friendship with the US has a long history of seven decades, but, also faced several ups and downs. Pakistan protected American interests in the regions and ensured that the US have achieved all its strategic goals. Yet, Pakistan faced the hardest sanctions too.
Pakistan is the only country that suffered the largest causalities due to the Afghan war, and the biggest economic losses. The menace of terrorism, extremism, intolerance, drugs, and gun culture was an additional gift for Pakistan. Its performance was much beyond its capacity, yet, was demanded: “Do more”.
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Since the US kept distancing from Pakistan, or more precisely, since the US has written of Pakistan, has been facing one after another failure consecutively. Afghan debacle, or its middle-east failure, all are blamed on Pakistan.
Practically, the US is out of this whole region now
Pakistan’s strategic importance and vital potential are well known in Washington, especially in the military establishment. Pakistan possesses a strong army and is one of the most resilient nations. Pakistan‘s role in maintaining regional peace and stability is well recognized.
Positive signals are just initial steps, a lot more has to be done. The US needs to address Pakistan’s genuine concerns regarding US-India relations, especially the use of American technology and weapons against Pakistan. India launched an airstrike using Israeli and American weapons/technology/support, almost 200 KM deep into Pakistan at Balakot in February 2019. The US needs to take appropriate measures to stop India to use American support against Pakistan. Pakistan has no issue regarding India-US relations as long as, it does not harm Pakistan. The US needs to maintain the balance of power in the region between two rivals.
Regarding China, the US was beneficiary Pak-China relations in restoring its diplomatic ties with China. The Chinese always remember Pakistan’s positive role and are grateful. Pakistan was keeping close ties with China being in the American club against the communism threat in the 1950s and 1960s. Pakistan-China relations are bilateral in nature and pose no threat to any third country at all. In fact, China-Pakistan relations are promoting regional peace, stability, and development. No other country should be worried about our close ties.
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It is believed that if both sides are sincerely addressing each other’s concerns, can overcome all differences soon. It is desired that the traditional friendship among us, based on mutual respect, and equality, will be restored soon.
Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space (GVS News).