Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has spend much of the last week on a tour of Iran, Saudi Arabia, US and Qatar diffusing tensions and calling for peace and dialogue in the Middle East on the directions of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
During his visit the foreign minister met his counterpart US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Under Secretary of Defense John Rood, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and other notable lawmakers. Apart from making efforts to de-escalate regional tensions, Pakistan has been pushing its narrative against India’s continued human rights violations in occupied Kashmir.
Qureshi briefed his counterpart about discussions during his recent visit to Tehran and Riyadh, saying that Pakistan wants peace and stability and is determined to play a role in diffusing regional tensions. However, Qureshi also informed Pompeo that the dream of a peaceful South Asia cannot be achieved until the Kashmir issue is resolved. Pakistan is seemingly attaching its vested interests with other bilateral and regional issues to leverage against the US.
The foreign minister said it was the joint efforts of Pakistan and the US that the prospect of peace in Afghanistan is on the horizons after decades of war. The Afghan Taliban is expected to sign a peace deal with the US soon even though there has been no discussion on a ceasefire. Qureshi said that US must remain engaged in Afghanistan’s reconstruction even if it withdraws its troops, as peace in the war-torn nation is their shared responsibility.
Pakistan wants USA’s assistance to be removed from the grey list of the FATF as a crucial meeting will be held in Beijing next month. If not removed by April, Pakistan risks being moved to a blacklist of countries triggering severe economic sanctions. The US has also imposed travel advisories on Pakistan due to terrorism threats and a polio epidemic. Pakistan wants these removed in order to boost tourism in the country and to declare it a safe destination.
FM Qureshi reminded Washington that Pakistan has fulfilled the USA’s expectations, and now their expectations should be fulfilled in return. This is probably a change in Pakistan’s foreign policy, as we are now in a better position to seek advantage from the US. Instead of the usual ‘Do More’ rhetoric, Pakistan is finally asking the US to do something for them.