NEW YORK: Former US assistant secretary of state Robin Raphel has said that despite ups and downs in their relationship, the United States, as a global power, cannot ignore Pakistan, emphasising the importance of Pakistan as an influential Muslim country and an emerging democracy with a powerful military.
Participating in a discussion at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a London-based international think tank, the former US diplomat noted that Pakistan now feels more confident of itself because of its burgeoning relationship with China, and growing ties with Russia. Still, she said that Pakistan needs the United States.
Raphel underscored the need for US and Pakistan to collaborate in an effort to promote a settlement to end the war in Afghanistan. As a diplomat, she regretted that the overall efforts to deal with the Afghan war were more focused on a military solution rather than through a diplomatic process.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi also spoke at the event and said that Pakistan and the United States are in the process of resetting their relationship against the backdrop of geopolitical shifts that have transformed the global and regional environment, a top Pakistani diplomat told a large gathering of American foreign policy experts, academics and businessmen.
Ambassador Lodhi also insisted that peace could only be restored in Afghanistan through a negotiated settlement. “This is also the firm consensus of the international community expressed repeatedly by the Security Council at the United Nations,” she said.
The immediate challenge for both US and Pakistan, she said, was to find a common approach to Afghanistan even though both agreed that the stability and security of Afghanistan was a shared interest.
Pakistan, she said, believes that the immediate and realistic goals in Afghanistan should be concerted action to eliminate the presence in Afghanistan of Daesh, remnants of al Qaeda and their affiliates, including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
She also stressed that only dialogue can lead to a peaceful resolution of the war in Afghanistan.