Washington: The US would be eager to know how Pakistan wants to take relationship forward with India as a top diplomat of the Nawaz Sharif government meets American Secretary of State John Kerry next week.
As part of the revitalised US-Pakistan strategic dialogue, Kerry is hosting Pakistan Security and Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaz Aziz for a ministerial-level meeting here at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department on Monday, informed sources said Friday.
The day-long dialogue—the first high-level consultations between the two countries after the October meeting between US President Barack Obama and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif—is expected to primarily focus on two key aspects of the US-Pak relationship—economic cooperation and security cooperation.
India is expected to figure in both.
“We are very interested in Pakistan’s relationship with Indian and seeing improvements in that. We’d encourage both sides in that regard,” said a senior State Department official, who agreed to speak on the next week’s US-Pak dialogue on condition of anonymity.”We’ve also talked about relations with India, the prospect for improvement there. Again, this is an area that Prime Minister Sharif has emphasised. He’s taken some initiatives. He’s met with his Indian counterpart. I expect they’ll want to tell us about what they see as the prospects in that regard,” the official said.
Noting that the obstacles in improving Indo-Pak economic relationship is primarily political, the official claimed, there is no doubt that it is Pakistan, which would benefit the most from any increased trade and business activities between the two South Asian neighbours.
“It’s our view, and I believe it’s the view of any Pakistani economist that’s looked at it, that the benefits that flow from improved trade between Indian and Pakistan flow overwhelmingly to Pakistan,” the official said.
“So we don’t need to provide any incentives to Pakistan to do something that’s obviously in its own economic interest. The obstacles to improving the economic relations with India have largely been political and security over the years,” the official said in response to a question.
“So American economic incentives aren’t going to overcome that. What has to overcome is the recognition that these are two countries that are going to have to live together permanently and that they have overwhelming benefits to be realised by opening their borders and increasing trade,” the Senior State Department official said.
Another senior State Department official said the Obama Administration wants to listen from the Pak leadership on its view on its relationship with India and how it wants to go forward.
“We have been in listening mode to both India and to Pakistan. We would love to hear more about the Commerce Minister meeting last week, some of the other efforts underway. And if there’s a role that we can play we’d be happy to discuss that. But we are here to hear and listen as well as to talk,” the second senior State Department official said.—PTI