ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday hoped its relations with the United States would strengthen further under the new administration headed by president-elect Donald Trump in a first detailed reaction to the Republican candidate’s stunning victory.
“It will remain our endeavour to promote and strengthen this relationship further and also to work closely on areas of common interest with the new administration,” said Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria here at his news briefing. “We look forward to working with the new administration for the mutual benefit of both countries,” he added.
A blessing in disguise for Pakistan?
His statement came in response to a volley of questions about the implications of the election of Trump, who during his election campaign made a series of controversial statements ranging from banning Muslims’ entry into the US to countering Pakistan through its arch-rival India.
Zakaria, however, ducked the pointed questions and instead reminded reporters that Pakistan-US ties spanned over several decades. “Our relation with the US is longstanding and decades old. The political change in the US has come about through a democratic process, which is being followed there for a very long time,” he argued.
The spokesman added that Pakistan had always maintained very close relations and bilateral cooperation with the US. “There are numerous areas where both countries have convergence of interests and have worked in partnership on several issues. We look forward to closely working with the new administration in pursuit of our common ideals of freedom, democracy and prosperity,” he stressed.
Despite the rosy picture presented by the spokesperson, there are fears that Trump may review some of the decisions taken by his predecessors. Given his stance on certain issues, Trump may be more assertive and demanding.
Pakistan is also hopeful that Trump may play a more proactive role in addressing the root causes of tensions in the sub-continent such as the longstanding Kashmir dispute. “Mr Trump during his election campaign had said that he would like to play the role of a mediator or arbitrator between India and Pakistan. Mr Sartaj Aziz also welcomed this offer,” Zakaria said.
When asked whether Pakistan would take up the human rights violations committed by India in Occupied Kashmir with the new US administration, the spokesperson said Pakistan would continue its efforts to sensitise the Trump administration.
“The US is fully aware of Pakistan’s position and sentiments on Kashmir, particularly on human rights violations in IOK. There was reference to Kashmir in the Joint Declaration issued in 2015 during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the US. Prime Minister’s special envoys on Kashmir, who visited Washington, also effectively took up the issue with not just the government but also the members of parliament and civil society.”
Pakistanis worry President Trump may favour India
Responding to another question about the references made to Pathankot and Mumbai attacks in the joint statement issued after the visit of British prime minister to India recently, the spokesperson termed the move uncalled for. He said both the cases were being actively pursued by Pakistan. “Mumbai case is sub judice. After eight years, India acknowledged the need for providing material evidence from its side, which is essential for the trial.”
Zakaria reminded Britain that being the oldest democracy and a staunch proponent and protector of human rights, it should have raised the human rights violations being committed by Indian forces in the disputed Kashmir region.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson confirmed that six out of eight staff members of India’s High Commission, who were identified as spies and involved in subversive activities, were withdrawn by New Delhi. Sources said the remaining two Indian officials would also leave Pakistan soon.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2016.
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