LAHORE: Walter Russell Mead, a Yale University professor and contributor to the International Herald Tribune, on Monday spoke at a seminar on US-Pakistan relations, organised by the Pakistan Study Centre (PSC) of the Punjab University (PU).
Prof Mead is a senior member of the US Foreign Relations Council. Recounting US foreign policy in a historical perspective all the way down to the Obama administration, Mead said it was not surprising to see US foreign policy shift its strategic and national interest from time to time.
He said the US wanted South Asia free of terrorism and nuclear threats and hence has engaged in bilateral talks with both Pakistani and Indian governments.
“India has the potential to emerge as a strong economic power by 2025. It is also the only country that can counter the economic rise of China. Therefore, the US is more interested in cementing ties with India than Pakistan.”
“Pakistan is currently undergoing an economic crisis. It is unlikely for the US to have the kind of similar interest in Pakistan it has in India,” he pointed out. Regarding Indo-Pak relations, he said the two countries needed to resolve their differences amicably.
“The US wants the two countries to set aside their differences and work towards a model of economic and political stability similar to the European Union – independent of US intervention.” Regarding US help to Pakistan, he said the US was providing aid to Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar Act for growth in educational, health and energy sectors.
“However, Pakistan needs to alleviate its poverty and illiteracy on its own to make best use of the US aid at the grassroot level,” he went on to say.
Mead said that the Quaid-e-Azam had rightfully pointed out that the Pakistan had the resources and the potential to progress considerably. “It is, however, unfortunate that in spite of having the world’s most creative and intelligent people, the government’s expenditure on primary education remains one of the lowest in the world,” he added.
He said that being nuclear powers both India and Pakistan should respect each other’s territorial integrity in order to ensure peace in the region. The two countries are closer to resolving the Kashmir issue than they were 50 years ago, he said, summing up his lecture.
Also speaking on the occasion, Dr Kalabe Abad, a PU professor, maintained that Pakistan was not a failed state. “It is just a victim to a multitude of internal problems,” he said.
Regarding the Palestine-Israel conflict, he said the policy makers in America should pressure the government of Israel to implement the two-state solution in line with the United Nation resolutions.
He said Israel’s recent attack on a Gaza-bound flotilla did not only affect the latter’s relations with Turkey but also enraged Muslims all over the world.
In view of the US-funded anti-militant campaigns in the Tribal Areas, he said the governments of Pakistan and the US should seek the trust of the Pakistani people for these operations to be successful.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2010.
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