Pakistan wants broad-based partnership with US, Blinken told

Pakistan wants broad-based partnership with US, Blinken told

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday emphasised the need for expanded bilateral ties and cooperation with the United States.

Talking to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken over phone, Mr Qureshi said Pakistan desires “a broad-based and comprehensive” partnership with America.

This was the second telephonic conversation between the two foreign ministers since Mr Blinken took office in January. Their first call on Jan 29 was overshadowed by the Supreme Court’s decision to release Omar Saeed Sheikh, who is accused of abducting and murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl.

Mr Blinken, meanwhile, spoke twice with Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa. Although the conversations were mostly about Afghanistan and the withdrawal of US forces from there, they gave rise to an impression that the new administration in Washington was according preference to the military leaders while dealing with Pakistan.

Mr Qureshi and Mr Blinken, according to a readout issued by the Foreign Office, spoke about “bilateral relations and important regional developments”.

The foreign minister told his US counterpart that Pakistan wanted ties based on “close economic cooperation, enhanced regional connectivity and common vision for a peaceful South Asia”.

He informed Mr Blinken about the recent shift in the focus of Pakistan government’s foreign policy to geo-economics. The new vision, he said, rested on “three central pillars of peace, development partnerships and connectivity”.

The conversation between the two foreign ministers happened as fighting resumed between the Taliban and Afghan government at the end of their three-day Eid ceasefire facilitated by Pakistan.

“Foreign Minister Qureshi reaffirmed Pakistan’s steadfast support for the Afghan peace process while underscoring that achieving peaceful political solution in Afghanistan was the shared responsibility of all Afghan parties as well as the key international and regional stakeholders,” the FO said in the statement.

Mr Qureshi emphasised the importance of “responsible withdrawal” of the US and other foreign forces from Afghanistan and noted that reduction in violence, permanent ceasefire, and securing an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement were “indispensable”.

He recalled the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism and efforts made for strengthening the anti-terrorist financing and anti-money laundering regimes. “He reaffirmed the resolve to continue efforts in this regard,” the FO said.

Israeli atrocities against Palestinians also came up during the discussion.