Ties with Pakistan, India not ‘zero-sum’ for US: State Dept

by Tauqeer Abbas
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US State Department has said that Washington doesn’t see its ties with Pakistan and India as “zero-sum” despite the two countries being strategic rivals as well as key players in the regional politics in South Asia.

Even though the United States wants to see regional stability in the region, its relationships with Pakistan and India “stand on their own”, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price expressed these views during Monday’s press briefing in response to a question about Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s offer to improve ties with New Delhi.

On January 17, PM Shehbaz Sharif asked his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to hold serious and sincere talks in a bid to resolve the burning issues, including Kashmir.

“We’ve long called for regional stability in South Asia. That’s certainly what we want to see. We want to see it advanced. When it comes to our partnership – our partnerships with India and Pakistan, these are relationships that stand on their own. We do not see these relationships as zero-sum,” said Price.

The spokesperson said that the pace, scope, and character of any dialogue between India and Pakistan is a matter for those two countries.

When asked if Washington is sending someone to Pakistan for a long-term solution to the collapse of the power grids, Price said the US has “assisted Pakistani partners across any number of challenges and is prepared to do so in this case if there is something that we’re able to provide”.

However, he said that he is not aware of any particular requests.

He was also asked if the US would open the door for talks with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and his party if he gets elected as the prime minister, keeping in view his stance of a “US conspiracy” behind his ouster last year in April.

To this, the spokesperson said that Washington is open and would work with any elected government in Pakistan.

“Pakistan is a partner of ours; we share a number of interests. We have demonstrated our desire to see constructive relations with Pakistan over the course of successive governments. As we have said in different contexts, we judge governments by the policies they pursue. It would ultimately be a question of the type of policy that any future government of Pakistan might pursue.”

Sustainable growth via IMF reforms

Meanwhile, US Ambassador Donald Blome said Pakistan needs sustainable growth based on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reforms as the global lender works within a sharp policy framework, The News reported Tuesday.

He said this while addressing the members of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and added that the reforms proposed by the IMF and the World Bank will bring Pakistan on a sustained growth path.

Blome said the US is looking for ways to reduce economic pressure on Pakistan. “Our bilateral trade in 2022 reached $9.9 billion, of which Pakistan exported goods worth $6.8 billion.”

He said the US commerce department is looking for ways to facilitate Pakistan, adding that the country needs to shift from imported fossil fuels to indigenous fuels.

“Pakistan has got a lot of potential in this regard. The US is assisting the country to achieve this potential through consultancy and investment,” he added.

The US envoy said that climate change adversely impacted Pakistan, adding that a few weeks after the devastation caused by floods, numerous US officials visited the country’s affected areas.

“The US since then has committed $200 million for relief efforts and is trying to assist Pakistan in overcoming the climate impact through a planning mechanism to respond to floods. This includes putting together a resilient infrastructure,” he said.

Regarding the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Pakistan, Blome pointed out that this is a long process and would take time, while on visa issues, he admitted there was a backlog after the COVID-19 that is being cleared and the things would normalise in a few months.

He said Pakistan has a huge unrealised potential in tourism, adding that the US is assisting the country in preserving its cultural heritage that fascinates tourists.

Source: The News

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