US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has said the United States should replace its transactional relationship with Pakistan into a strategic partnership for the common good of the two countries.
He was addressing a news conference in Islamabad on Sunday after talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Describing his meetings with Pakistani leadership very impressive, the US senator said with Prime Minister Imran Khan in power, we have a unique opportunity to transform the relationship into the one that is beneficial for both the countries. . He said the FTA with Pakistan and integrating the economies will be mutually beneficially. He pointed out that Pakistan has a large young population and improvement in trade relations will see a great demand of our products in the country.
Lindsey Graham said he is very optimistic after his meetings with the Pakistani leadership and he will also urge the US President Donald Trump to talk to Prime Minister Imran Khan to take forward the relationship and the Afghan reconciliation process.
The US Senator was highly appreciable of Imran Khan describing him as the agent of change. He said Imran Khan was criticized over decades for talking about reconciliation in Afghanistan. He said Imran Khan was right as war there will only end through reconciliation. He said it is not in anybody's interest that the Taliban reclaim Afghanistan by force. It is time for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. He said Donald Trump will be more enthusiastic about the region if he meets personality like Imran Khan.
Graham Lindsey also appreciated Pakistan's military operations in the tribal areas and sacrifices it rendered in the war on terrorism. He said a lot has changed in the tribal areas with lot of money being spent for their development.
The US Senator said Pakistan has a robust plan to secure its border with Afghanistan and we wish Afghanistan has the same plan. He said he will apprise the US administration and the lawmakers about the positive changes he has seen in Pakistan. He said a stable Pakistan is in our own interest.
When asked about prospects of Afghan reconciliation process, the US Senator said it will take a while but said that he sees an opportunity that leads to reconciliation.
When asked about US military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the US Senator said the US's investment post withdrawal will be more important. He admitted that Afghanistan and Pakistan are seen as a burden in the US but stressed there is need to see them as partners.