WASHINGTON – Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi wrapped up his crucial US tour on Wednesday with observations that there was a visible change in the conduct of Washington this time.
Before leaving for Islamabad, Qureshi addressed a press conference and said they made significant progress, noting that the American officials have made critical comments about Pakistan in the past and Islamabad faced a barrage of criticism.
‘US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was ready to listen to what Pakistan had to stay, especially after his visit to Islamabad last month,’ noted the minister.
Qureshi highlighted that after his tour, Washington got the impression that Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership was on the same page adding that the US officials were now issuing positive statements.
The difference between the two countries’ viewpoints was due to misunderstanding and was cleared, said the minister.
Qureshi elaborated that Pakistan desires to respect the United States’ laws but hastened to add that the US needs to respect Pakistani laws as well.
‘I am returning to Pakistan slightly more hopeful than before, Qureshi said.
On the issue of extremism and the regional issues, the foreign minister said Pakistan was committed to eradicating terrorism completely and all political parties were now united on the National Action Plan [NAP] agenda.
Qureshi also explained that the US was insistent on its demands about Dr. Shakil Afridi but noted that resolving opposing stances in one sitting was impossible.
The lawmaker highlighted that the Pakistani community in the US was quite strong but needs to get active.
We are committed to making their role in the US effective, he vowed.
Regarding the Afghan peace process, the minister expressed that the US was told that peace in Afghanistan was not possible without progress in Pakistan.
‘We do not deny the importance of Afghanistan but the US-Pakistan ties should not be viewed through the lens of Afghanistan,’ Qureshi affirmed.
While speaking at the American Institute of Peace regarding Pakistan’s Eastern neighbor, India, the foreign minister said it was unfair of India to accuse Pakistan of what was happening in Kashmir.
‘India should look at its own policies,’ FM Qureshi said.
Before leaving for Pakistan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi also thanked Ali Jahangir Siddiqui, the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, and the staff at the Embassy in Washington for giving him a rousing welcome and hosting him.
‘The entire team cooperated in making my tour to the US successful,’ he added.