Talbott Commends Kasuri for Imaginatively Capitalizing on Opportunities
By Shaheen Chaudhri


US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice greets Pakistan Minister of
Foreign Affairs Kurshid Mahmood Kasuri in Washington

Washington, DC: Last week, the Pakistani Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Khurshid M. Kasuri made a two-day visit to Washington, DC. During his short stay, the Foreign Minister met with the Pakistani Congressional Caucus, various Administration officials including President. Bush himself, and delivered a lecture at The Brookings Institution. He concluded his stay with an address to the Pakistani community at the Embassy of Pakistan.
On Thursday, June 9th , Mr. Kasuri addressed the Pakistan Caucus, the first meeting of his visit to Washington, DC. Mr. Faiz Rehman, executive director of the Pakistani-American Liaison Center, welcomed all the attendees and introduced Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee from the 18th Congressional District of Texas, co-chair of the Pakistan Caucus. Congresswoman Lee commended the Foreign Minister for his worldly understanding of law, his keen understanding of US issues, and his unique grasp of President Musharraf’s vision for Pakistan.

Later that day, Mr. Kasuri spoke on the US-Pakistani relationship in his address to the Leadership Forum at The Brookings Institution. Mr. Strobe Talbott, President of The Brookings Institution, highlighted the constructive manner in which the foreign minister has met the challenges facing Pakistan. He continued by commending the Foreign Minister for “the way he has imaginatively capitalized on the opportunities.” He praised Mr. Kasuri for approaching India at times when it was politically unfavorable to do so. Furthermore, he expressed confidence in Pakistan’s emerging role as a member of the “strategic quadrangle,” comprised of the United States, Pakistan, India, and China.
Mr. Kasuri discussed a number of policies and new directions his country has taken. He expounded greatly on the steps Pakistan is prepared to take in hopes of improving the relationship between the Muslim world and the West. Mr. Kasuri proclaimed: “The clash of civilizations as some people are predicting is not the future of mankind.” In order to ensure a dialogue of civilizations, Mr. Kasuri highlighted President Musharraf’s policy of “enlightened moderation” aimed at alleviating the root causes of discord between the West and the Islamic World. Enlightened moderation calls upon Muslim nations to pursue internal reformation. This necessitates shunning fundamentalism and militancy through reforms in education and gender-equality, thus adopting “the path of socio-economic uplift and human resource development.” In addition to this, enlightened moderation calls upon the West to contribute to resolving outstanding disputes in the Muslim world and assist Muslim nations in economic development.
For the Islamic world, reconsidering the role of the Organization of the Islamic Conference would be an ideal first step towards realizing enlightened moderation. Strengthening the OIC Secretariat and establishing departments to examine gender roles, science and technology, and education would allow the Muslim world to better project Islam’s true values. A department in charge solely of Media Affairs would act as a vehicle by which OIC activities and views could be conveyed to the entire world.
On the subject of Pakistan’s economy, the Foreign Minister was pleased to announce a “dramatic turn around.” With 8.4% GDP growth this fiscal year, Pakistan is the second fastest growing economy in Asia, second only to China. Mr. Kasuri drew attention to the favorable US response to Pakistan’s poverty reduction and education reform efforts, citing a $600 million US annual assistance package as a valuable supplement to the Pakistani government’s efforts.
The future of Indo-Pak relations will revolve upon resolving the region’s outstanding disputes. On the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, the Foreign Minister stated: “A promising start has been made. People to people contacts have improved. Economic and cultural exchanges increased.” He continued by remarking, “The commencement of Muzzaffarabad-Sringar Bus Service is a win-win situation for all the parties involved, especially the Kashmiris themselves who have long suffered deprivations.” Mr. Kasuri reiterated the Pakistani Government’s position that the Kashmiris must be involved in the peace process if a lasting peace is to be achieved. This stance is one of both pragmatism, as well as principle.

The Foreign Minister wrapped up his visit with his address to the Embassy of Pakistan on Friday, June 10. Epressing regret for a short stay, he highlighted the visit’s successes despite a “fairly packed program.” He believed much had been accomplished. He cited meetings with President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadlay, and various senators including Senator Chuck Hagel from Nebraska, Senator Warner from Virginia, and Senator Lugar from Indiana, as testimony to the visit’s success.
In his meetings with the Administration, Mr. Kasuri discussed a number of issues. The Foreign Minister expressed appreciation for Washington’s continued support for Pakistan while President Bush made clear his concern for Pakistan’s security needs. Understanding the threat of hardliner backlash Pakistan faces in the ongoing peace process with India, President Bush lauded President Musharraf’s vision and courage. In his meeting with National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Mr. Kasuri expressed his concern on the reports of the desecration of the Holy Qur’an at Guantanamo Bay. In doing so, he requested an investigation into these occurrences, and hoped those responsible would be held accountable. Amongst the issues covered, Mr. Hadlay and Mr. Kasuri discussed establishing sustainable democracy in Pakistan, as well as the Pakistani Government’s ongoing cooperation in the global war on terror. On the last day of his visit, Mr. Kasuri called on Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice, and briefed her on several issues including Pak-India relations and Pakistan’s hope for trilateral talks in resolving the Kashmir dispute. Dr. Rice was pleased with the confidence-building measures both parties are taking, as well as their overarching goal of establishing long-term regional security. Meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick, Mr. Kasuri presented an overview on Pakistan’s economic progress, and expounded on the free trade agreement and bilateral investment treaty currently under consideration by both parties. Mr. Zoellick stressed the need for continued economic reforms if Pakistan is to secure sustainable economic growth.
At the embassy, Foreign Minister Kasuri spoke of plans to construct gas pipelines to assist Pakistan in meeting its growing energy needs. The current pipelines under consideration would also act as significant confidence-building measures for regional relations. On this matter, the Foreign Minister referred specifically to the Iran-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline and the Qatar-Pakistan-India pipeline. A third project in the sector entails a third pipeline emanating from Turkmenistan and terminating in Pakistan. It would greatly assist Pakistan in meeting its energy needs. In addition to these projects, the Foreign Minister expressed optimism towards future energy-oriented agreements with Central Asian countries
Foreign Minister Kasuri stated that the United States and Pakistan friendship is highly valued by both parties. Not only is Pakistan serving as a partner in the war on global terror, but it also shares a thriving trade relationship with the United States. As Pakistan’s largest trading partner, exports to the United States constitute $3 billion while imports are valued at $1.3 billion. In addition to a thriving import-export relationship, US investment in Pakistan has increased, a testament to the government’s commitment to providing a secure, business-friendly environment. This endeavor would be assisted, Mr. Kasuri remarked, “through a level playing field.” Currently pursuing a bilateral investment treaty with the United States, Foreign Minister Kasuri explained Pakistan is pursuing a multidimensional approach to economic reform. This approach will hopefully pave the way for a South Asia Free Trade Area with the potential to benefit the entire region. He stressed the fact that Pakistan is interested solely in “trade, not aid.” His government would continue its pursuit of a level playing field, and “no special favors.”

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 pakistanlink.com . All Rights Reserved.