A delegation of US senators separately met Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Saturday, asserting America’s commitment to maintaining “stable and broad-based” ties and strengthening diplomatic cooperation with Pakistan.
The four-member delegation was headed by Senator Angus King and comprised Senator Richard Burr, Senator John Cornyn and Senator Ben Sasse. All these senators are members of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, while Senator King is also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the premier underlined in the meeting that Pakistan valued its long-standing relationship with the US and was committed to expanding it in all spheres, particularly in the economic dimension.
A 4-member delegation of the U.S. Senate — including Senators @SenAngusKing, @SenatorBurr, @JohnCornyn and Benjamin Sasse (@SenSasse) — called on Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI, today. pic.twitter.com/trYgPz6nlm
— Prime Minister's Office, Pakistan (@PakPMO) December 11, 2021
The prime minister expressed the hope that visits by delegations from the US Congress to Pakistan would help strengthen mutual understanding between the two countries and forge closer people-to-people contacts, the PMO said in a statement.
“The PM (prime minister) reiterated that a deeper and stronger partnership between the two countries was mutually beneficial and critical for the region’s peace, security and prosperity.”
With regards to the evolving situation in Afghanistan, the PMO statement said, Prime Minister Imran emphasised the need for “deeper engagement” between the US and Pakistan “to promote the shared objectives of peace, stability and economic development” in the war-torn country.
He particularly underscored the “urgent need to support the Afghan people by taking all possible measures to prevent a humanitarian crisis and economic collapse,” the statement added.
Moreover, the premier highlighted the importance of “closer cooperation to address the security threats in the region, including terrorism”.
“He stressed that the US must play its role in the maintenance of regional peace and stability” and assured the delegation that for its part, Pakistan was prepared to pursue measures that would reinforce peace, stability and prosperity in the region, provided that an enabling environment was created by India.
In this regard, he also informed the delegation about continuous “egregious human rights violations” in Indian-occupied Kashmir and highlighted that the “extremist and exclusionist policies” of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which the premier said was inspired by Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
For their part, the US senators recalled the “collective struggles of Pakistan and the US” over the past decades for promoting peace and security globally, according to the PMO statement.
“The senators deeply appreciated Pakistan’s recent contribution in the evacuation of American nationals and others from Afghanistan post 15 August,” when the Taliban seized Kabul, and reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining “stable and broad-based” bilateral relations with Pakistan.
They also emphasised that, given the size of Pakistan’s population and its geostrategic location, the US and Pakistan “should make determined efforts for promoting trade, investment and economic cooperation”.
Meeting with COAS
The US senators, along with the US Charge d’ Affaires to Pakistan, also met COAS General Bajwa, according to a statement issued by the military’s media affairs wing.
The statement by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that matters of mutual interest, the security situation in Afghanistan and bilateral cooperation in various fields were discussed during the meeting.
“The COAS said that Pakistan desires to maintain productive bilateral engagement with all regional players and wishes for peaceful, diversified, sustained relations,” the statement said, adding that General Bajwa also stressed urgent global convergence on Afghanistan to avoid a looming humanitarian crisis there.
He also emphasised the need for coordinated efforts for the economic uplift of the Afghan people, the statement said.
“The COAS thanked the senators for their efforts in forging a mutual understanding of the geo-political and security situation in view of challenges ahead.”
The visiting dignitaries, the statement added, appreciated Pakistan’s role vis-a-vis Afghanistan, special efforts for border management and its role in regional stability.
They pledged to play their part in strengthening diplomatic cooperation between the US Pakistan at all levels.