New York: Asserting that Pakistan’s priorities have changed, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday asked the United States to come out of its hangover and quit seeing Islamabad from the “Afghanistan prism”, adding that Washington should focus on the bilateral side to their relationship.
Qureshi, in an interview with the Japanese newspaper Nikkei, emphasised that Islamabad’s priority now includes economic growth and human development.
“We’ve told them that Pakistan’s thought process has changed. The US administration should come out of its hangover of the past. It’s a new, transformed Pakistan, in which our priorities have changed. Our priority is economic growth, human development, economic security, elimination and eradication of terrorism, and reversing extremism,” the Pakistan Foreign Minister told Nikkei.
Answering a question over juggling ties with the US and China, the minister said Pakistan has been telling the Americans: “If you go away, somebody has to step in.”
“You’re not investing in Pakistan, you’re not engaging with Pakistan. How are you helping build this bilateral relationship? The only way you can do that is remain engaged. Now if you just come up with a transactional relationship, it won’t work. You can’t just keep on saying, “Afghanistan, Afghanistan, Afghanistan.” There’s a bilateral side to us as well.”
While noting the importance of Afghanistan, the minister said that Islamabad is doing whatever they can to restore peace and stability in the war-torn country, “But stop looking at us through the Afghanistan prism.”
During the interview, Qureshi also noted that the US relationship with India “stands renewed and rejuvenated.”
As continues to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan, the minister said that Pakistan will remain relevant to the US, even if they leave their neighbouring country.
“Our geostrategic location is important. We have 200 million people. We are important in the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation). We are an atomic power. They will need us, down the line. So it’s better to remain engaged with Pakistan.”
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