Friday, March 31, 2017

Pakistan invites US to invest in CPEC projects

WASHINGTON: Pakistan has invited the United States to invest in projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to achieve its regional peace objectives and ensure a prosperous and peaceful south Asia.

“A number of western countries have shown their interest in projects under CPEC and we want the United States to also make investment in the development schemes,” Pakistan’s Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said.

In his first public appearance at a US think tank, Aizaz Chaudhry displayed his strong diplomatic skills and expertly answered some extremely provocative questions from the Afghan participants at an event at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).

He said Pakistan wanted to work with the United States, China and Afghan government to bring lasting peace in the war-torn country as an unstable Afghanistan was creating immense problems for Pakistan.

Chaudry said Islamabad attached extreme importance to its ties with Washington and hoped that relations would improve under the current administration. He said that perception about Pakistan in Washington needed to change in accordance with the ground realities as the country had made a lot of progress on economic and security fronts.

When an Afghan student asked him why Osama Bin Laden and Mulla Omar were killed in Pakistan and why Pakistan was sending militants who were killing Afghan nationals, he said, “We know that you have been fed this which is unfortunate and that is precisely the point I was making that the systematic nurturing of hatred in people of Afghanistan was not a wise investment. It’s not us denying you need to come out of this. Who was Osama Bin Laden? How was he made? What was he doing in Afghanistan and after Tora Bora bombing why did he come to Pakistan, we don’t need him. We wanted him dead yesterday and we are happy that he got killed but we are unhappy the way he got killed. Pakistan should have been taken into confidence so there are perspective you see the glass from this side we see from other side. As far as Mulla Omar is concerned, his son and his brother went to Zabul and exhumed the grave to make sure he never left Afghanistan and presidential palace fed BBC a wrong news that he died in a Karachi hospital,” said the ambassador.

He said this kind of propaganda was spreading hatred and was not a wise investment as the reality on the ground was totally different. The ambassador said Pakistan’s current leadership had made a commitment with the nation that no terrorist would be allowed to operate in Pakistan and the country’s soil would never be allowed to be used for planning militant activities in any other country.

Another Afghan student said she had been an Afghan refugee in Pakistan and she was thankful to the US and United Nations for hosting her to which the ambassador reminded her that she lived on Pakistani soil along with three million other Afghan refugees who were hosted by the country for 37 years.

“No other country in the world has hosted three million refugees for that long time,” he said adding that Afghan government should now create an environment conducive for the return of refugees, especially when it had received billions of dollars in aid from the United States for the purpose.

The ambassador called for a dialogue between various Afghan factions to resolve the conflict. “We are waiting for the new US administration to announce outcome of its review of Afghan policy and based on that we will engage with US.” 

The ambassador said US was the main player in Afghanistan with huge investment in peace efforts in the country. He said the idea that Pakistan was responsible for all Afghan problems was an over simplification of the issue and there was a need for the two countries to engage more on all levels. He assured that Pakistan remained committed to any Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process to achieve lasting peace in the country.

The ambassador also informed the audience about the most positive developments inside Pakistan, including the ongoing successful security operations against the terrorist remnants and the great economic opportunities borne out of robust economic reforms

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