The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Ms. Wendy R. Sherman visited Pakistan on 7-8 October 2021. She met with Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi. She was accompanied by Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Mr. Donald Lu. Views were exchanged in a very cordial atmosphere on bilateral relations, Afghanistan, and regional peace and stability.
As regards the situation in Afghanistan, the Foreign Minister stressed that there was a fundamental convergence between Pakistan and the United States on the need for a peaceful settlement. He expressed the hope that the new setup in Afghanistan would make concerted efforts for peace and stability as well as work towards the betterment of the lives of all Afghan people.
Progressing towards better a better relationship
Foreign Minister noted that an inclusive and broad-based political structure reflecting the ethnic diversity of Afghan society was essential for Afghanistan’s stability and progress. He also stressed that the current situation required positive engagement of the international community, urgent provision of humanitarian assistance, the release of Afghan financial resources, and measures to help build a sustainable economy to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people.
In the context of Pakistan-U.S. bilateral relations, the Foreign Minister underlined Pakistan’s commitment to forging a broad-based, long-term, and sustainable relationship anchored in economic cooperation, regional connectivity, and peace in the region. He added that a regular and structured dialogue process between Pakistan and U.S. was vital for promoting common interests and advancing shared regional objectives.
Highlighting the grave human rights situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the Foreign Minister emphasized the importance of peacefully resolving the Jammu and Kashmir dispute for durable peace and stability in South Asia.
The Foreign Minister also thanked the United States for the Covid-related support extended to Pakistan.
US appreciation towards Pakistan
Deputy Secretary Sherman conveyed grief and sorrow over the loss of human lives in the earthquake that struck parts of Baluchistan yesterday.
Deputy Secretary Sherman appreciated Pakistan’s support for the evacuation of U.S. citizens and others from Afghanistan, and its continued efforts for peace in the region.
Deputy Secretary Sherman underscored the importance of the long-standing relationship between Pakistan and the U.S. It was agreed to continue close communication and coordination on the situation in Afghanistan, security and counter-terrorism, trade and investment, climate change, economic cooperation, and regional connectivity.
As a matter of fact, The US was among the very countries that recognized Pakistan early days just after getting independence from British rule. Since then, Pakistan enjoys close relations with the US, Pakistan is a signatory of several agreements and pacts, covering all dimensions of cooperation, like, culture, educations, Science & Technology, Defense, Agriculture, Transfer of technology, economy, etc. The worth mentioning are SEATO, CENTO, Bagdad Pact, and Manila Pact, etc. Pakistan was sincerely serving the US interest and protected their vital interests in this part of the world. Pakistan ensured that the US will achieve all its strategic goals in this region. Pakistan stood shoulder to shoulder with the US in all difficult moments, either it was, cold war, or Afghan war in the 1980s, or War on terror. Pakistan also supported the US in the UN on political, diplomatic issues.
Read more: US and Pakistan strive to improve relations
However, for quite some time, the US’s over-tilt toward India has upset Pakistan. Maybe the US wanted to raise India to counter China, but, unfortunately, India used all its gains from the US to counter Pakistan. The Irony is that the US knowingly all these facts, kept its eyes closed, and blindly assisting India. I think the root cause of the deficient of trust was India, which always projected Pakistan’s negative image and cornered Pakistan. However, since, the US signed Major Defense Partner and similar treaty with India and depending on India for regional support, face failure one after another. The Afghan debacles, to some extent, are also linked to the atrocities and brutalities of India.
As Pakistan is the next-door neighbor of Afghanistan, shares not only the common 2600 KM border but mountains and rivers too. Both countries share a common history, culture, traditions, tribal system, customs, religion, and ethnicity, etc. No other country in the world can understand Afghanistan better than Pakistan. There is no alternate or substitute of Pakistan in respect of the Afghan issue.
Pakistan was the biggest victim of the situation in Afghanistan
Pakistan sacrificed 70,000 precious lives and hosted 5 million refugees (peak time). Whereas, the US has lost only 2700 lives and a negligible burden of refugees. Pakistan’s economy was hard-hit by the Afghan war and unrest. Intolerance, extremism, terrorism were additional gifts of the Afghan war. Drugs and gun culture were also a by-product of the Afghan war for Pakistan.
As explained by the foreign minister of Pakistan, during his meeting with visiting Deputy Secretary, that the convergence of interest of both – the US and Pakistan, is peace and stability of Afghanistan. Pakistan is the fir country that desires utmost peace and stability in Afghanistan. In fact, peace in Afghanistan means, peace in Pakistan, in the region, and global peace. Unrest in Afghanistan may cause global, regional unrest.
There are high expectations from her visit. Her visit has provided the first-hand real situation of the region and helped her to understand Pakistan’s narrative. It is expected that all misunderstandings or rumors have gone already. Trust, she is a smart, mature, and seasoned diplomat and will convince Washington after returning back to the US.
Cooperation and collaboration between Pakistan and the US were fruitful in the past and will serve the best interests of both countries in the future. It is desired that she will succeed in restoring the traditional friendship between the two nations. Coercive diplomacy, aggressiveness, sanctions, and threatening approach were never effective in the past and will remain counterproductive in the future too. Instead, unitedly, we (both nations) can change the geopolitics of the region and the destiny of the people.
Trust, her visit was fruitful, and expect positive outcomes soon.
Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.