Mutual trust key to useful Pak-US ties: Jilani

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WASHINGTON

Pakistan and the Untied States can foster an effective long-term partnership through mutual trust and strong economic ties, Ambassador to US Jalil Abbas Jilani emphasised on Thursday while also urging sustained post-2014 international engagement with Afghanistan.
He was speaking on US-Pakistan Relations in 2014 at an event, organised by the Middle East Institute. Former US ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin, who heads the think tank, welcomed Jilani and renowned expert Dr Marvin Weinbaum moderated the discussion.
Underscoring the importance of a trusting and mutually respectful relationship, Jilani noted that the partnership between the two countries yielded results when the two nations worked with full mutual trust and confidence in the fight against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
He described Pakistan-US relations as vital and said despite ups and downs in the ties and a turbulent phase in the recent past, there is no doubt that the two countries need each other.
“No doubt, we need each other – it is a very important relationship,” Jilani added, while stating that the relationship has improved considerably in recent months.
The seasoned diplomat appreciated US economic and security support for Pakistan over the years and noted that Islamabad and Washington are taking forward cooperation in energy, counterterrorism, economic, security and strategic stability areas under the strategic dialogue.
The relationship has gained a new momentum since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House last year.
At the same time, the envoy asked the US to extend greater trade access to Pakistani products, advocating that such a step – as recently done by the European Union – would send a positive signal to the Pakistani people that the US is committed to forging a long-term relationship with the country.
The ambassador also informed the gathering of think tank experts, intellectuals, university students and media persons that Islamabad is fully focused on dealing with the menace of terrorism. In this context, he referred to the steps including the dialogue and a string of targeted strikes against terrorists hiding in the tribal areas. He also said the federal cabinet in Islamabad has approved a comprehensive security policy.
Jilani was confident that the Torkham route for NATO supplies would be re-opened shortly, after the court declared the blockade of the line of communication as illegal.
On Afghanistan, Jilani reaffirmed Islamabad’s support for an Afghan-led reconciliation process but underlined that it is imperative that all international partners engage with the country after the 2014 transition as the landlocked country sharing a long border with Pakistan would face some stiff economic and security challenges.
“I think the abrupt withdrawal of foreign forces will not be in the interest of anyone – reconciliation is still in embryonic state – the base of the Afghan economy is weak – the security problems are going to be enormous.”