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FM Bilawal stresses broader, deeper Pak-US relations

Says Islamabad must continue to engage with Washington ‘at all levels’

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has sought broader, deeper relations with the US, saying Islamabad must continue to engage with Washington at all levels.

During an interview with The Associated Press in New York, Bilawal termed the meeting with the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken “very encouraging and very positive and productive.”

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Bilawal said the United States and Pakistan must move beyond past tensions over Afghanistan and are entering a new engagement after years of strained relations under former prime minister Imran Khan.

“This meeting was indeed an important first step and we believe that Pakistan must continue to engage with the United States at all levels,” he said.

The top Pakistani diplomat concluded his maiden US trip during which he attended a global food security conference and held meetings with the US and UN officials.

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The foreign minister, during the interview, stressed the world to deal with Afghanistan’s humanitarian and crumbling economic crisis immediately, saying, “Regardless of what we feel about the regime in Afghanistan, the world can’t abandon the Afghan people.”

“A total collapse of the Afghan economy would be a disaster for Afghans, Pakistan and the international community,” he told the news agency.

Bilawal said the more the humanitarian crisis is alleviated and the economy is saved from collapse, “the more likely we are to succeed in our pursuit for women’s rights and the more likely we are to succeed in our efforts against terrorism.”

Speaking about coordination in the economy, defence and military, the FM said, “If we continue to engage, then we can move forward in a more positive direction.”

Bilawal rejected Imran Khan’s accusation of a US conspiracy to topple his government through a confidence motion and termed it a “fanciful conspiracy theory based on a big lie.”

“I am particularly anti the politics of hate, division and polarization,” the foreign minister said, adding that “if we consistently pursue the politics of ‘you’re with us or against us,’ whether that’s on an international level or a domestic level, I don’t believe it serves the interests of the people of Pakistan.”

Commenting on his upcoming visit to China, Bilawal said, “I don’t think that our growing relationship with the US will damage ties with China.”

President Joe Biden has strengthened ties with India, but Bilawal said Pakistan is not “jealous” of their relationship. “We believe the world is big enough for both Pakistan and India,” he said.

Pakistan has abstained on UN General Assembly resolutions condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and withdrawal of its troops. Bhutto Zardari said Pakistan used to rely a lot on Ukrainian wheat and fertiliser and has been affected by rising food prices and calls for diplomacy to end the war.

In the interview with the AP, Bilawal recalled the legacy of his mother Benazir Bhutto and grandfather Zulfikar Bhutto. He called them “towering figures on the world stage,” and said he feels “the burden of history”. staff report

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