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Safeguarding national interest

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo one day visit to Islamabad revealed bold indications that the new government is pursuing an independent foreign policy in its relations with the United States and other world powers. It is determined to grab the opportunities that re-alignment of forces offer to it. The low key reception at the PAF Noor Khan Air Base and what transpired from the joint meeting with the Prime Minister says it all. His body language depicted in the handshake how a genuinely and popularly elected leadership should upheld the dignity of his country and its people.

Prime Minister Imran Khan in straight talk told the top US diplomat that Pakistan looks forward to strengthening its relationship with the US based on trust and respect. He underscored his commitment to peace with all neighbours and shared Pakistan’s perspective on the situation in the region and reiterated its desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

It appears that Washington has realised the change in the rules of engagement by its longtime ally.  While taking to media on his arrival at PAF Noor Khan Air Base, US of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that in a number of meetings with the Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa he talked about the opportunity to reset the relationship to reset the relationship between the two countries across a broad spectrum—economic, business and commercial, the work that we all know that we need to do try and develop a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan, which benefit certainly Afghanistan but also the United States and Pakistan. “And I’m hopeful that the foundation we lay today will set the conditions for continued success as we start to move forward,” said Pompeo.

The statement issued by the State Department soon after the conclusion of Secretary after the conclusion of Secretary of State visit said that Mike Pompeo conveyed the need for Pakistan’s to take sustained and decisive measures against terrorists and militants threatening the regional peace and stability in his meeting with civil and military leadership of Pakistan. The State Department “Read out” did not mention the sacrifices of 60000 civilians and personnel of security forces in war on terror and loss of $ 100 billion to the economy.

This version was rebutted by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. He said that Pakistan and the United States have different stance on several issues. However he categorically made it clear that the US had not made a demand for” Do more”. “We got the impression the US policy has been reviewed. We presented the Pakistani stance with self-respect, tolerance and responsibility,” he said. The foreign minister said, “The talks with the US were held in a positive and congenial environment. Our future is linked to Afghanistan. We want to live in peace,” he maintained.  In this context he referred to the latest positive developments on Pakistan-Afghanistan front, including operationalisation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS). He disclosed that he would make his first visit to Afghanistan.

The parameters of the US Administration on war against terrorism are not clear. Strong and decisive action against ISIS in Afghanistan does not figure clearly in the South Asia Policy. That is why former Afghan President Hamid Karzai alleged that ISIS fighters were brought to Afghanistan onboard unmarked helicopters. Other terrorist groups that have sanctuaries inside Afghanistan have come under the umbrella of ISIS. The entry of this international terrorist organisation in the Afghan war theater has posed grave threat to the stability of countries of this region including Pakistan, China, Iran and Central Asian States. Russia is extremely worried about the spell over effect of ISIS to Central Asia and onward to mainland Russia itself. The United States has shot down Pakistan’s proposal to place one of the most wanted terrorist on the United Nations Sanctions Committee List. In July last year, Pakistan requested the UN Security Council for listing the Jamiatul Ahrar (JUA) Chief Umar Khalid Khurasani aka Abdul Wali. The Committee took up Pakistan’s request but had to turn it down after the United States raised objection to it. The JUA operates under the ISIS chain of command and is a banned organision. This sort of double standards lends credence to the theory that destabalised Afghanistan suits the American interests in the region. The independent foreign policy of Pakistan is aimed at restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

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