Pakistan must continue to engage with US at all levels: Bilawal

ISLAMABAD - Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has stressed that the United States and Pakistan must move beyond the past events to engage in a far broader, deeper and more meaningful relationship.

He said the US and Pakistan must move beyond past tensions over Afghanistan and expressed the confidence that the two countries were now entering a new engagement.

Referring to his meetings with the top diplomats, including a discussion with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the foreign minister called the meeting with Blinken “very encouraging and very positive and productive.”

“We believe that Pakistan must continue to engage with the United States at all levels. This meeting was indeed an important first step,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said in an interview with The Associated Press in New York, last week during his stay, where he had been attending meetings on the global food crisis at UN headquarters.

The foreign minister said his focus in talks with Blinken was on increasing trade, particularly in agriculture, information technology and energy.

He said he was looking forward to working with the US on an initiative to empower women, including women entrepreneurs.

About Afghanistan, the foreign minister said the world could not abandon the Afghan people and must immediately address the country’s humanitarian crisis and a crumbling economy.

“A total collapse of the Afghan economy would be a disaster for Afghans, Pakistan and the international community, the news wire quoted Bilawal as saying.

The foreign minister shared his concerns that many Afghans would flee the country.

| FM reaches China on special invitation of Chinese counterpart

The foreign minister said Pakistan was also insisting the Taliban live up to their international commitments that the country not be used for terrorism, that girls and women be able to pursue education, and that they form an inclusive government.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said the more the humanitarian crisis was alleviated and the economy was saved from collapse, “the more likely we are to succeed in our pursuit for women’s rights and the more likely we are to succeed in our efforts against terrorism.”

Asked about former prime minister Imran Khan’s anti-US rhetoric, Bilawal dismissed the ex-premier’s accusation of American collusion, calling it a “fanciful conspiracy theory based on a big lie” to explain his removal.

“I am particularly anti the politics of hate, division and polarization,” the foreign minister said, adding “If we consistently pursue the politics of `you’re with us or against us,’ whether that’s on an international level or a domestic level, I don’t believe it serves the interests of the people of Pakistan.”

He said he believed Pakistanis understood their country needed to engage with the US and all countries, in order to become democratic and progress economically.

During his interview, Bilawal also recalled the legacy of his late mother and grandfather and called them “towering figures on the world stage,” adding that he felt “the burden of history.”

“What motivates and drives me is the pursuit of their unfulfilled mission,” he said. “I hope that we live up to the expectations of the people of Pakistan” who have longed for true democracy and struggled for their economic, political and human rights.

“These are the ideals that we hold dear and we work towards every day,” he added.



Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has reached southern Chinese city Guangzhou on a two-day official visit to China aimed at discussing, reviewing and further strengthening the bilateral relations between the two countries.

Bilawal is visiting China at the invitation of Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

During the visit, both the foreign ministers would hold formal talks today which would cover all aspects of bilateral relations, regional situation and global issues of mutual concern.

Diplomatic sources told The Nation that FM Bilawal would also take Chinese counterpart into confidence over his talks with US Secretary of State Mr Blinkin which took place in New York.

A diplomat told The Nation that the meeting was shifted to Guangzhou city due to the Covid in Beijing.

This is the first ever visit by Bilawal Bhutto to China after assuming the office of FM last month.

The visit by Pakistani foreign minister coincides with the 71st anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China.

Earlier, Bilawal arrived in Islamabad after completing his four-day official visit to the US where he held a meeting with his US counterpart Antony Blinkin.



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