Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee that the notion that Pakistan is part of the problem vis-à-vis Afghanistan was wrong, and needed to be corrected.
During a meeting that lasted nearly an hour at Capitol Hill, Foreign Minister Khar, accompanied by Ambassador Sherry Rehman, met members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, including Chairperson Senator Dianne Feinstein, Vice Chairman Senator Saxby Chambliss, Senator Burr, Senator Risch and others.
According to a press release issued by the Embassy of Pakistan, Khar, who is on her first official trip as the foreign minister to Washington DC, had a ‘candid exchange of views’ with the senators.
The foreign minister told the US Senators that “Pakistan attached great importance to its relationship with the US and the people of Pakistan wanted their contributions and sacrifices in fighting terrorism recognised and appreciated.” She said it was important that Pakistan’s priorities, concerns and constraints were better understood by the US.
The foreign minister said she was in Washington to have in-depth discussions on how best to deal with the challenges in the bilateral relationship and to build on the recent positive momentum in strengthening the special relationship between Pakistan and the US.
On Afghanistan, Khar said that Pakistan wanted to have a genuine dialogue with the US, and highlighted their commitment to use the “trilateral mechanism” to promote an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process.
“Instability in Afghanistan threatens Pakistan more than any other nation on earth,” she said
The press release further said that the senators posed questions to her on regional security, counterterrorism efforts and the Afghanistan reconciliation process.
Khar is scheduled to meet members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.
Khar meets USAID administrator
Meanwhile, in a meeting with Foreign Minister Khar, USAID Administrator Dr Rajiv Shah urged the government of Pakistan to address the operational difficulties of USAID in Pakistan.
Shah said removal of these difficulties would help ensure “smooth and effective delivery of the assistance”.
According to a press release, the two officials reviewed the state of economic collaboration and USAID work and assistance projects in Pakistan. The meeting was also attended by Alex Thier from USAID, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Washington Sherry Rehman and other embassy officials.
Khar also said that large signature projects “could be important symbols of the good that Pakistan-US partnership has brought to the people of Pakistan.”
The press release said that the foreign minister “also stressed the desirability for timely ‘on budget’ release of funds and the need for greater coordination and synergy in project implementations between USAID and the Pakistan government.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2012.