Islamabad, Pakistan: Renowned U.S scholar, author and former Dean at School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University, Vali Reza Nasr has said that Pakistan is much closer to Washington on Afghan issue than New Delhi.
While the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that Pakistan’s long standing position that the United States should talk to the Taliban has now been finally vindicated with the upcoming peace deal and Pakistan has now more ‘strategic space’ to pursue its core foreign policy interests.
He made these remarks during the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee meeting held here on Monday at the Parliament House which was briefed by prominent foreign policy expert, Prof. Vali Nasr from the United States on “Pakistan-US relations, President’s Trump visit to India and US views about China, Iran and Afghanistan.” Senator Mushahid Hussain said that with Modi forced to look inwards because of his follies in Kashmir and India, Trump dependent on Pakistan for the Afghan peace process which he sees pivotal to his election victory in 2020 and the situation in the Gulf between Iran and its neighbours give Pakistan a geo-political breather to protect, promote, pursue its foreign policy interests in the region, especially CPEC, Kashmir issue, relations with Iran and Afghanistan.
Prof. Vali Nasr said that Pakistan is much closer to Washington on Afghan issue than New Delhi and peace in Afghanistan “opens the door for Pakistan for a new Relationship with the US beyond security ties.” He also mentioned another plus for Pakistan that the image of Paksitan is becoming different and he urged Pakistani policy makers to have close coordination with Iran on Afghanistan as no political solution is possible without Iran. Prof. Vali Nasr also said that there were 8 India centres at think tanks in Washington DC while there is none from Pakistan.
The interesting and informative comments of Prof. Vali Nasr sparked an animated discussion in the committee. Senator Sherry Rehman urged the need for a sustained and substantive economic engagement with the United States beyond just the security dimension because she feared that the “moment” for Pakistan being a facilitator on Afghanistan might soon be forgotten. Senator Sirajul Haq raised the issue of the ecology and environment of Afghanistan and Pakistan being damaged by decades of conflict with the result that this can also affect future generations like it happened in the case of Vietnam and Cambodia and he urged that Pakistan seek reparations from the US for the damage caused by the American wars in the region. Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar expressed the hope for a rapprochement between Iran and its Arab neighbours while other members agreed with the assertion of Prof. Vali Nasr that “President Trump is not ideological and transactional and he is culturally more compatible with Prime Minister Imran Khan than he is with Prime Minister Modi.” Prof. Vali Nasr said that Modi’s domestic agenda for the rest of his term is to erase Nehru’s legacy and reshape India since he has an ideological approach” and he praised President Trump for “wiping out the notion and terminology of war on terror politically” as his perspective is all about economy and he is opposed to any new wars in the Muslim world.
The meeting was attended by Senators Javed Abbasi, Nuzhat Sadiq, Seemee Ezdi, Sherry Rehman, Anwarul Haq Kakar, Sirajul Haq, Sitara Ayaz and Dr. Shahzad Waseem as well as the Secretary of the Committee Rabeea Anwar.
Foreign Office of Pakistan released a separate statement which is hereunder:
Renowned U.S scholar, author and former Dean at School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University, Mr. Vali Reza Nasr was hosted for a talk on “U.S. policy in the Middle East and South Asia” at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this afternoon. The talk was followed by an interactive Q&A session.
Professor Nasr shared his perspective and analysis on the evolving situation in the Middle East, Afghan peace and reconciliation process and U.S. policy towards China and India, as well as the trajectory of Pakistan-U.S. bilateral relations.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also graced the occasion and shared his views.
Mr. Nasr appreciated the efforts of Prime Minister Imran Khan that had led to a change in perception for Pakistan in Washington. In his opinion, Pakistan was now being positively viewed by the various stakeholders in the U.S. Government.
Following the talk, the Foreign Minister received Mr. Vali Nasr in his office and discussed in greater depth bilateral and regional issues.
Hosting international scholars and foreign policy experts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is part of the initiative of the Foreign Minister to reach out to scholars and academia and expose officers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to independent perspectives on issues of our interest.