Khar seeks realistic plan from US on Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (PAN): The visiting Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Thursday asked the United States to clarify exactly what it wants in Afghanistan, and outline a realistic plan to achieve it.
Currently on a four-day visit to Washington, Khar conveyed her government’s message to top American lawmakers at the Capitol Hill in the eve of her crucial meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In a meeting with members of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Khar sought a reliable and achievable plan from the US on Afghanistan and pushed for a free trade agreement between the two countries. “This would instill confidence in the allies, especially Pakistan,” The Pakistani FM said.
With the US intending to end its military engagement in the region, Khar observed it was Pakistan's neighborhood and the country would be left to deal with the consequences of any actions or decisions that were made now.
"I am encouraged by the frank discussion that we had - I think it is important to have discussion because we had too much mistrust and fears which have inhibited the course of our relations in the past," Khar told reporters after the meeting.
During her meeting, she made a strong case for greater market access for Pakistan products in the US.
Pakistan is hopeful that at some point soon the two countries will negotiate a free trade agreement that would open up both Pakistani and US markets to products made by the other, she said.
Khar expressed satisfaction that the Pak-US bilateral relationship had weathered a very difficult period over last 18 months, and that relations were clearly improving, laying the foundation for an even more robust special relationship between the two nations in the future.
On the question of cross border insurgency and the use of IEDs in Afghanistan, Khar prescribed more information sharing and coordination of actions at all levels.
Reiterating that a stable and peaceful Afghanistan is in the national interest of Pakistan, she said Afghanistan is a sovereign and independent nation and Pakistan will treat it as nothing less.
Pakistan continues to advise against an exclusive reliance on use of force in Afghanistan, the foreign minister said adding that the process of reconciliation must move forward, and it must be Afghan-led and Afghan-based.
Later at a press stake out, Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Kerry, characterized the US relationship with Pakistan as very important, recognized the need to build mutual trust, critical to the outcome of the lingering Afghan war.
Responding to questions on increasing demand of lawmakers to cut US aid to Pakistan, Kerry argued that this is not going to happen as this is not the view of the majority.
This would instill confidence in the allies, especially Pakistan, Khar said and made the point that while the US intends to end its military engagement in the region, this is Pakistan's neighborhood and it would be left to deal with the consequences of any actions or decisions that are made now.
During the meeting, Khar reiterated that a stable and peaceful Afghanistan was in the national interest of Pakistan. Afghanistan is a sovereign and independent nation and Pakistan will treat it as nothing less, she said.
Pakistan continues to advise against an exclusive reliance on use of force in Afghanistan. She said that the process of reconciliation must move forward, and it must be Afghan-led and Afghan-based.
Khar said Pakistan stands ready to do all that it can to further that process, working closely with its Afghan and US partners.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.