US looking at new friends in region, Pakistan also has options: Qureshi
WASHINGTON – Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that though the US, as a global power, expects ‘special treatment’, Pakistan does hope to be friends with the US while exercising its option to cultivate relations with China and others.
In an interview to Al-Jazeera, he said: “We want the US to be friends with Pakistan. We recognise that the US is an important global power, and they will continue to be a military, technological and economic power in the foreseeable future. They are looking at different options; they are looking at new friends in the region. We do have friends who have been consistent and very valuable. China is one of them. The others who recognise how important, how strategically located Pakistan is and to understand Pakistan’s importance. So, we are not alone and everyone has options.”
About Pakistan-India relations, Qureshi referred back to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first public address on July 26, in which he said, “You take one step towards peace, we will take two,” and pointed to Prime Minister Khan’s subsequent requests for constructive, peaceful dialogue with India as part of the new government’s approach. “What we did.. we thought made sense. Two neighbours with outstanding issues, atomic powers. How do you fix things? War is no option. There is no military solution. The only solution is a dialogue.”
On allegations of aiding the Taliban, Foreign Minister Qureshi said that previous Pakistani governments had been helping their own country. “They were helping overcome a situation which was not of their own creation. Who were these people? Who supported them? Who trained them? We forget history and at times we overlook that friends change. People that you support, some of the people, were called extremists. Weren’t they invited to the US? Weren’t they entertained in the White House? So, friends change. Circumstances change. We were just defending and protecting ourselves.”
Qureshi acknowledged that another priority of the new government will be to address internal corruption and foreign debt and to the use of Pakistan’s resources for “human development, the most valuable asset of Pakistan, the people of the country, we haven’t invested enough in education, in health.”