Shaukat Aziz Visits United States, Urges Support for New Govt.
A Pakistan Link Report
Los Angeles, CA: Calling for unimpeded US assistance for the new democratic government in Pakistan, former prime minister Shaukat Aziz said the two countries should focus on strengthening the relationship, deepening and broadening multi-faceted cooperation, and promoting greater people-to-people friendship.
He was addressing a select group of Pakistanis at the Whittier residence of Dr Majjida Ahmed and Dr Suhail Siddiqi on March 9, 2008. Prominent community members present on the occasion concurred with the observations of the former Prime Minister.
Saad Siddiqi, son of Drs Majjida and Suhail opened the proceedings with a request to the invitees to observe a minute of silence in memory of the late Benazir Bhutto.
In response to a question from the event moderator, Dr Asif Mahmood, Aziz stated that he was elated that the elections in Pakistan were free, fair and safe. Underscoring that the polls had proved that the majority of Pakistanis were “progressive and moderate”, he expressed the hope that the new government would “take Pakistan forward on the path of stability, development and progress”.
Pictures above were taken at the dinner hosted by Drs Suhail Siddiqui and Majjida Ahmed in honor of Mr. Shaukat Aziz, former Prime Minister of Pakisan on March 09, 2008, (Photos by Pakistan Link reporter YKKB)
In reply to a question, Aziz said Pakistan has a unique relationship with the US. It is the most allied and the most sanctioned ally of the United States.
“Pakistan-US relations are important for both countries as well as for peace, security and development at the regional as well as international levels,” he pointed out.
The lively question-answer session saw Dr Khalid Ahmed, a prominent Pakistani-American physician, posing the all- important question about the nature of Pakistan-India relations. The invitees to the event were pleasantly surprised at the frankness and candor displayed by the former Prime Minister in furnishing answers to the questions.
While noting that “one of the key challenges is effectively dealing with difference of perceptions on some important issues”, Mr Aziz observed that despite a close relationship between Pakistan and the USA, “anti-Americanism in Pakistan or misunderstandings about Pakistan and its society in the US commitment to fight terrorism and extremism and its contribution and sacrifices in the counter-terrorism struggle are not always fully recognized in the US”.
“Continued assertions that Pakistan is not doing enough to combat terrorism contribute to a perception of mistrust about the relationship. There have also been threatening statements about the possible military strikes against terrorist targets inside our tribal areas. In order to avoid any negative fallout there has to be a realistic appreciation of the scope of counter-terrorism cooperation and better understanding of Pakistan’s contribution and sacrifices in this endeavor”, he added.
Mr Aziz asserted: “It is imperative to avoid any assertions or action that would undermine our sovereignty, be inconsistent with international law, unacceptable to the people of Pakistan and detrimental to the ongoing counter-terrorism cooperation.”
His clipped British accent and winsome smile won the admiration of the knowledgeable audience.