By Muhammad Luqman
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has invited Pakistan’s foreign minister to Washington in the first such high level contact since Khawaja Asif took over as foreign minister in the cabinet reshuffle in the wake of July 28 disqualification of Nawaz Sharif by country’s apex court.
The invitation was extended by the secretary of state during a telephone conversation with Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Monday, said Foreign Office spokesman in a statement.
Reciprocating the gesture, Asif also extended an invitation to Secretary Tillerson to visit Pakistan. Secretary Tillerson, according to the Foreign Office, accepted the invitation.
Tillerson called his Pakistani counterpart to congratulate him on Independence Day but the two foreign policy wizards took benefit of the opportunity to discuss the state of bilateral ties as well as the current regional security situation.
“He [Tillerson] conveyed the best wishes on behalf of the US government and the American people to the government and people of Pakistan,” read the Foreign Office statement.
He also congratulated Asif on assumption of office as foreign minister of Pakistan and expressed his desire to work with him for achieving common objectives.
The foreign minister thanked Tillerson and said the call on Pakistan’s 70th Independence Day was an apt reminder of the long history of relations between the two countries.
He said the US had been a partner in Pakistan’s journey of development, both in the socio-economic and defence sector. He said he would strive in his new capacity to strengthen partnership with the US.
Asif said the current leadership of Pakistan was committed to establishing Pakistan’s vital relations with the US. He underscored the need to build a dynamic and diverse relationship underpinned by mutual trust, sincerity and confidence.
Asif said Pakistan would benefit the most if peace and stability was achieved in Afghanistan as success and sustainability of Pakistan’s economic reforms depended upon a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.
He expressed Pakistan’s willingness to work with the US once the policy review on Afghanistan is unveiled. He emphasised a political settlement of the conflict in the Afghanistan as the common objective of Pakistan and the US.
The contact came against the backdrop of a host of ongoing developments in Washington where many are calling for taking a tough line against Islamabad to persuade it to do more in the fight on terrorism.
Pakistan, however, has all along maintained that it has done more than any other country in this and stressed the need for finding a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan instead of using force.
By Muhammad Luqman