There is a ‘glimmer of hope’ in US-Pak Relations and with cautious optimism on both sides, things will get better, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs has observed that with uncertainties removed from both sides, Pakistan US relations can continue to grow better. He also said regional connectivity via CPEC can promote regional cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He made these remarks during a public hearing held by Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs on ‘Pakistan-American Relations: After Foreign Minister’s Washington Visit’ here at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Studies in Islamabad. The public hearing was attended by a standing room only, packed audience from diplomatic community, civil and military experts, Parliamentarians, academia, students and journalists. He made these remarks during a Public Hearing held by Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs at PIPS.
Former Ambassador to the United States and Former Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jillani while addressing the participants observed that at this unpredictable juncture of US-Pakistan relations, building trust is very significant for re-engagement between both sides. He said US needs to appreciate and understand our legitimate security concerns vis a vis India and Afghanistan and measures for retaining goodwill are needed. He also said that resettlement of US-China relations is of key importance to the stability of this region for which Pakistan will continue to play its role. He said that recent interactions between US and Pakistan are on a positive line and Washington now understands that some areas of its earlier policy towards Asia are not workable.
Moeed Yusuf who is the Vice President of United States Institute of Peace at Washington D.C. remarked that as of today Pakistan and US do not enjoy a bilateral relationship independent of Afghanistan and all our mutual conversations are revolving around Afghanistan. He said that in order to make Pakistan-US relations better there is a need to dispel the negative perception in US that always sees Pakistan as part of the problem and not the solution. However, he acknowledged that presence of a full time foreign minister who is well-known in US has been taken positively and the recent visits on both sides have helped the cause well. He observed that there is a glimmer of hope in stabilizing the relationship and both sides need to understand that they have no other options but to work together. He proposed having focused conversations, deliberating upon a common vision, and utilising Pakistan’s role in Afghan peace process. He said that a broken US-Pakistan relationship affects China-US relationship, hence making it better is all the more important while also taking measures to recreate space to cooperate on our own bilateral relationship.
Senator Sherry Rehman who has also served as Pakistan’s ambassador to US and Dr. Rasool Bakhsh Raees, a professor of political science also addressed the public hearing. Senator Sherry Rehman said that both US and Pakistan need to make their rationales clear. She said that Pakistan has always sought to be seen as a serious and useful interlocutor for the peace process in Afghanistan and it is high time that US understands this. Dr. Rasool Bakhsh Raees observed that the stalemate in the relationship has something to do with Islamabad and something to do with US. He said that both sides need to understand that it’s a forty year old war that we are talking about and it cannot be hurried to just any imprudent solution. He said that the only viable solution to Afghan problem is talking to the right party.
The addresses were followed by an interactive question answer session wherein students participants from civil and military background and students from Quaid-e-Azam University, National University of Sciences and Technology and Institute of Strategic Studies put forward questions to the panellists regarding the US-Pakistan Relationship and the way forward for diplomacy. The hearing was attended among others by Amassador of France, Ambassador of European Union, Lt. Gen. (R) Talat Masood, Lt. Gen. (R) Asad Durrani, Irashadllah Khan, Dr. Ashfaq Hasan Khan, Senators Lt. Gen. (R) Abdul Qayyum, Dr. Mehr Taj, Asif Kirmani, Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif, Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, Javed Abbasi, Sitara Ayaz, Atta-ur-Rehman, Dr. Shahzad Waseem, Dr Ghous Niazi and Dr.Shaheen Butt.