Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi with US Congressman Chairman Gregory Meeks and Congressman Ami Bera in Islamabad on November 22, 2021. Image Credit: PID

Islamabad: Pakistan and United States officials exchanged views on a wide range of issues including counter-terrorism, climate change, trade and the humanitarian crisis in neighbouring Afghanistan.

A six-member US congressional delegation is currently on a visit to Pakistan to discuss a range of issues with Pakistan’s prime minister and senior officials.

Two senior US congressmen, US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Chairman Ami Bera, held talks with Pakistan’s prime minister, foreign minister, national security adviser and other officials.

Pakistan and United States agreed to strengthen bilateral trade and economic relationships as well as cooperation in security, counter-terrorism, health and combating climate change. Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the visit would help strengthen ties between the two countries and expressed hope that high-level exchanges will take place more frequently.

Afghanistan humanitarian crisis

On the Afghanistan situation, PM Khan stressed that both Pakistan and US needed to “deepen engagement” with the Afghanistan government to avert a humanitarian crisis and economic collapse and “to address the liquidity issue and enable banking channels to help Afghanistan sustain its immediate economic burden and challenges.”

Congressman Meeks deeply appreciated Pakistan’s role in the evacuation of US and Afghan nationals, as well as special immigrant visa holders (SIVs) from Afghanistan and hoped that the two countries will widen their engagement to stabilize Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, the US delegation held a meeting with Dr Moeed Yusuf to discuss Pakistan-US bilateral ties as well as the Afghanistan situation. Pakistan’s national security adviser (NSA) Yusuf expressed deep concern on the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan where an estimated 60 per cent of Afghanistan’s 38 million people could face extreme hunger. “Afghanistan financial and banking system is in disarray. The problem must be resolved quickly to avert the collapse of the system in the country” and to send assistance to Afghans before harsh winter, he said.

Trade and bilateral ties

Pakistan’s NSA told the US congressmen that Islamabad desires to build an “economic partnership” with Washington and invited US companies to invest and do business in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also held detailed meetings with Congressman Gregory Meeks and Congressman Ami Bera a day earlier. Qureshi emphasized that Pakistan is pursuing the geo-economics strategy to make the country a hub of trade, investment, and finance. He invited US companies to invest in Pakistan’s IT and health sectors.

The foreign minister also underlined Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability in the region with continuing efforts for humanitarian assistance and economic support to support the people of Afghanistan.