WASHINGTON: In the backdrop of India’s reluctance to resume peace talks with Pakistan, the United States can help bring the two nuclear-armed states on the negotiating table, Pakistan’s Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani said here.
“The Indian side has recently been evasive of reviving the dialogue process,” Ambassador Jilani said, referring to the cancellation of Foreign Secretary level talks last year by India, and more recently imposition of New Delhi’s unrealistic conditions prior to the scheduled talks in August between the National Security Advisers of the two countries.
“It is in these circumstances that friends like the United States could facilitate resumption of Pakistan-India dialogue process in the interest of peace in the region,” he said in an interview with APP.
The ambassador said that Pakistan and the United States have often expressed a shared interest in peace and stability in South Asia, and the Joint Statement, issued after the talks between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Barack Obama, emphasized the importance of sustained and resilient dialogue process.
He described the reference to Kashmir dispute in the Joint Statement as a “singularly significant” development.
“It establishes the centrality of this internationally recognized dispute towards durable peace in South Asia.”
Responding to a question, the ambassador said that Pakistan believes in a peaceful settlement of the long-standing dispute and “We are encouraged to note that our US partners see merit in this approach.”
Asked why U.S, should be concerned about the tension between Pakistan and India, the ambassador said that the Prime Minister during his recent visit to Washington drew the attention of the US leadership to the frequency of ceasefire violations by the Indian side on the Working Boundary.
“The US concern on growing tensions between the two South Asian neighbors emanates from their respective nuclear capability coupled with a checkered history of three wars.”
Replying to a question, Ambassador Jilani said that the next Ministerial meeting of the Strategic Dialogue Process was likely to be held in Washington in early 2016 that would help translate the commitments made in the Joint Statement into concrete action.
The Strategic Dialogue Process provides with a structured mechanism for sustained engagement in important areas, he added.
The sectoral Working Groups namely Economic and Finance; Defense; Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism; Security, Strategic and Stability and Non-proliferation; Energy and Education, Science and Technology continue to monitor progress in bilateral ties.
On bilateral trade issues, the Ambassador said while the US was the largest trading partner and major investor in Pakistan, there was a vast untapped potential in the realm of economic engagement.
Referring to the renewal of US GSP program for Pakistan; the five-year Joint Action Plan to expand trade and investment; and eligibility of Pakistani companies for participation in the US Department of Defence Procurement for Afghanistan, the Ambassador said that these constitute important steps toward broadening the base of country-specific concessions for Pakistan.
He said that discussion on enhanced market access would continue to take place in relevant mechanism including the Strategic Dialogue Process.
Replying to a question, Ambassador Jilani said that both countries have announced a Clean Energy Partnership which will work towards attracting private sector investment in building clean energy power projects including in the areas of hydelpower, wind, solar and natural gas.
He said President Obama has also expressed support for Pakistan’s efforts to secure funding for Diamer Bhasha and Dasu Dams. He informed that the USAID is sponsoring a Clean Energy Investment Conference to be held in Washington next month.
To a question, the Ambassador said that Pakistan and the United States have set up framework of security cooperation focused at enhancing Pakistan’s counter-terrorism capacity.
“Bilateral security cooperation especially precision strike capabilities have enabled Pakistan achieve success in its counter-militancy campaign,” he said and added that both countries continue to further discuss on provision of defense equipment and capabilities.
Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2015