A Webinar under the Auspices of Karachi Council on Foreign Affairs was held by their Chairman Mr. Ikram Sehgal on Reset of US-Pakistan Relations. Mr. Moeed Yusuf, Special Assistant to the PM on National Security and Strategic Planning was the Principal Speaker. Other speakers included Ambassador Cameron Munter (Former US Ambassador to Pakistan), Dr. Daniel Markey (Senior Research Professor John Hopkins University, USA), Dr. Huma Baqai (Professor IBA Karachi) and Mr. Moin Fudda, Member Board of Governors KCFR moderated the Webinar.
Moeed Yusuf highlighted that we were now in a very different world due to the changed regional dynamics. The key elements for the Pakistan-US relationship should be focused on having peace in Afghanistan, besides internal support and role of India due to security concerns in the region. he said the relationship should focus on partnership rather than monetary assistance and focus on mutual assistance for improvements in all area by leaving the past behind.
For the Afghan peace process, it was important to reach the finish line as everything has been spelt out and milestone-driven. He added that Pakistan has no issues with US- India partnership as long as there is objectivity and negativity and crisis is not initiated by India. There is a need to engage USA private investors and a starting point can be the experience of MNC’s operating in Pakistan. In
addition all Pakistan foreign missions are being requested to improve business to business private sector engagements.
Ambassador Cameron Munter stated that it is important to engage the President-elect Joe Biden’s administration early to create a positive approach with a new style. There are quite a few staff in the US administration on the Afghan and other foreign policy matters and will be willing to solve multilateral matters. On the global issues, engagement can be on E-Governance, Pandemic etc.
he said India presently has issues which will be evaluated viz.a. viz. China and
US/Australia/India/Japan. On the private sector engagement, he added, there is a need to have new business areas like IT, etc. instead of the traditional ones like Textiles which were quota driven. Pakistan’s focus should be on playing the role of an economic and diplomatic player.
Dr. Daniel Markey emphasized that bilateral mechanisms need to be developed. He stated that new ways need to be adopted. Some opportunity areas to be considered, which should be Pandemic response, Climate Change, Clean Energy and Nuclear diplomacy (Iran). He highlighted that USA-India relationship will be derived from India’s minority protection approach and the strategic competition with China (vs India). Furthermore, he added, there is a need to have a responsible approach in order to avoid an India-Pakistan crisis in the future.
On the private sector engagement, business relationships need to be made in new commercial areas by unleashing the power of the youth in Pakistan and having partnerships and connectivity. Textile quota enhancement bills in US congress etc. are not relevant.
In her analysis, Ms Huma Baqai spelled out that President-elect Biden would have to do a tightrope walk as he has to undertake a damage control exercise due to recent events under the Trump presidency. There is a need to have “new relationship” with specific actions and Pakistan should not be paired with China. There is a mismatch on certain strategic matters between the US and
Pakistan, which needs to be addressed and Pakistan should not be considered a “contingent partner”.
Chairman KCFR, Mr Ikram Sehgal, in his concluding remarks thanked the all the participants for an intensive, candid and fair-minded discussion; especially from the American side. “Pakistan wants to have a neutral stance with both KSA & Iran, as we do not consider the Sunni and Shia differences as an issue.’
He emphasized that the US private sector can make a lot of money in Pakistan as there is untapped potential in the South along the coast from Karachi to Gwadar which presents a golden opportunity. He emphasized Pakistan’s current position of not only being geographic pivot / gateway but also economic hub due to the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) and CPEC related projects. He mentioned that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shattered the relationships with all neighboring countries, which is positive for Pakistan. The Afghan peace process is critical for Mr. Biden, who has a reputation of being a fair person, and Pakistan can play a major role. (press release)
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