US Acknowledges Islamabad’s role in Afghan peace process: Wells

Chief US diplomat for South Asian affairs, Alice Wells, appreciated the steps taken by Pakistan to advance the Afghan peace process.

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The US diplomat, in a media briefing after her visit to three South Asian nations — Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka — said, “Pakistan has important leverage to promote lasting security and stability in Afghanistan.”

She said that she held several meetings in Pakistan with government, military, civil society, and business leaders. “At the top of the agenda was understanding how we can grow our bilateral relationship commensurate with the cooperation that we are achieving in promoting peace in Afghanistan and regional stability,” she added.

Talking about the Afghanistan peace deal, she said that US Ambassador Khalilzad and his team were in Doha to encourage the Taliban to make a commitment toward a reduction in use of force that would allow Afghans to sit at a negotiating table.

Wells also highlighted progress in US-Pakistan bilateral relations and said, “We’ve seen obvious progress in our relations with Pakistan, from the high-level engagement such as the US president’s warm and constructive meeting with Prime Minister Khan at Davos to the restoration of the International Military Education and Training programmes.”

“We’re looking forward to welcoming 10 Pakistani buyer delegations to the United States and five regional trade shows in 2020, which will build deeper relationships between US and Pakistani firms.”

She added that Prime Minister Khan’s economic reform efforts contributed to the World Bank identifying it as one of the top 10 reformers globally in 2019.

Talking about the FATF grey list, she welcomed Islamabad’s efforts to meet its counter-terrorism financing obligations under the Financial Action Task Force.

Ambassador wells, when asked what she had to say about Pakistan and China’s negative reaction to her critical comments on CPEC, clarified that it is, “Pakistan’s sovereign right to decide what investment it seeks and on what terms.”

She said that the US, as “a friend of Pakistan,” wanted to ‘advise’ Islamabad to take on investment projects that create wealth, generate employment and are sustainable and generate the greatest economic prosperity”

She went as far as to offer that, “we have great options for the Pakistan market.”

She was referencing a comment she had made shortly before, in which she revealed that American energy firms and manufacturers are interested in the Pakistani market.

“You have Exxon-Mobil, Excelerate, Cargill, Honeywell, all pursuing major new investments. You have Uber creating 80,000 jobs for Pakistani youth,” she noted.

“The argument that I was making in Pakistan is that there are opportunities and should be opportunities for American investment,” she said

“Prime Minister Khan’s economic reform efforts contributed to the World Bank identifying it as one of the top 10 reformers globally in 2019,” she noted.

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