Interview with the ap: New pakistani FM seeks closer ties to us

Saturday, May 21, 2022
author picture Gerald Girard
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Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

The son of former prime minister Benazir Bhhutto‚ Bilawal Bhutto is now the foreign minister of Pakistan. He is attending U.N. meetings in New York and has met with several high-ranking diplomats‚ including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. However‚ the two leaders are far from being on the same page.

UNITED NATIONS‚ (AP) -- Pakistan's foreign minister has stated that the United States must end past tensions about Afghanistan. He said they are now entering a new partnership after many years of tensions under Imran Khan. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (33-year-old) is the son of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. He spoke to The Associated Press in New York while he attended meetings on U.N. Headquarters' global food crisis. He also had talks with high-ranking diplomats including an hour with U.S. Secretary Antony Blinken. Bhutto Zardari called. The meeting with blinken very encouraging‚ very productive and positive. He stated that Pakistan should continue its engagement with the United States on all levels. The meeting was a significant first step. Bhutto Zardari is the co-chair of one the largest parties within Pakistan's dissimilar governing coalition. This party spans all political spectrums‚ from leftist to radically religious. Khan was removed by the coalition in a vote of no confidence on April 10. Shahbaz Sharif Khan was replaced as Prime Minister by a leader from the other major party. U.S.-Pakistani relations deteriorated after Khan became prime minister‚ tapping into anti-American sentiments in Pakistan‚ which has been growing ever since 9/11 terrorist attacks by al Qaida and the U.S. War on Terror. Many hard-liners within Pakistan were angered by the American attack that killed Osama Bin Laden‚ an al-Qaida leader in Pakistan in 2011. Khan claimed that the Biden administration conspired with the opposition in order to get rid of him. This accusation is denied by the administration. Mistrust also arose between them over Afghanistan. Washington believed Islamabad was not doing enough to ensure peace when NATO and the U.S. withdrew troops from Afghanistan. Pakistan claims it made all efforts to facilitate peace‚ and blames the sudden U.S. withdrawal. The Taliban overtook Kabul mid-August‚ and took power during the American withdrawal. Bhutto Zardari stated that the Pakistani-American relationship was too influenced by events in Afghanistan and other geopolitical considerations. It's now time to shift from this to develop a deeper‚ more meaningful‚ and broader relationship. Pakistan under Khan pushed for international engagement with Afghanistan's Taliban rulers. Bhutto Zardari stated that his country is still doing so. He said that no matter how we feel about Afghanistan's regime‚ the international community cannot abandon its people. The world must address Afghanistan's humanitarian crisis immediately and the crumbling economy. He expressed concern about the possibility of many Afghans fleeing the country if the Afghan economy collapses. He said that Pakistan insists on the Taliban living up to international obligations that it not be used to terror‚ that women and girls be allowed to study and that there is an inclusive government. However‚ the Taliban have taken a more hard-line turn in recent weeks‚ new restrictions have been imposed on women. Gleichzeitig‚ tensions have grown pakistan and the Taliban over Taliban militants in Afghanistan who are planning attacks on Pakistan. Bhutto Zardari stated that the greater the relief of the humanitarian crisis and economic recovery‚ the better we will be able to pursue women's rights as well as our fight against terrorist attacks. In talks with Blinken‚ he stated that he was focusing on increasing trade in particular in agriculture‚ energy‚ and information technology. He stated that he was looking forward to working together with the U.S. to develop an initiative to empower women and entrepreneurs. Bhutto Zardari stated that if we keep engaging in economic‚ military‚ and defense coordination then we will be able to move in a positive direction. When asked about Khan's anti U.S. rhetorical statements‚ Bhutto Zardari denied that the ex-premiers had accused America of collusion and called it a conspiracy theory. It was based on big lies to justify his removal. I am particularly anti the politics of hate‚ division and polarization‚ the foreign minister said. 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. According to him‚ he thinks Pakistanis realize that they need to work with all nations and the U.S. in order for their country to be democratic and move forward economically. Although President Joe Biden strengthened relations with Pakistan's archrival India‚ Bhutto Zardari stated that Pakistan does not envy their friendship. He said that both Pakistani and Indian peoples are equally important in the globalized world. Biden will be meeting Indian Prime Minister NarendraModi‚ the Australian and Japanese leaders at the summit in Tokyo of the "Quad‚" an Indo-Pacific alliance that China views as an effort to limit its economic growth. Pakistan and China have a close military‚ economic and political relationship. Bhutto Zardari will be visiting China on Saturday. According to him‚ he doesn't believe that Pakistan's growing relationship with America will hurt its ties with Beijing. Pakistan failed to support the U.N. General Assembly's resolutions deploring Russia's invasion and withdrawing of troops. Bhutto Zardari stated that Pakistan was dependent on Ukrainian fertilizer and wheat‚ and is now affected by the rising cost of food and calls for diplomatic diplomacy in ending war. In many ways‚ the lives of Bhutto Zardari's family reflect their country's turmoil. After his mother was shot in the head in December 2007‚ Bhutto Zardari assumed control of Pakistan Peoples Party. Benazir Ali Bhutto‚ Pakistan's first democratically elected prime Minister‚ was the daughter of Zulfikar Al Bhutto. She led Pakistan during the 1970s‚ but was eventually overthrown by the military. Benazir was Pakistan's first female premier‚ and served twice as the head of government. She was attempting to win a third term as premiership at the time she was shot. His father Asif Ali Zardari was also instrumental in shaping Bhutto Zardari’s political life. He served as Pakistan’s president between 2008 and 2013. Bhutto Zardari‚ in an interview with the AP recalls the legacy left by his grandfather and mother. Bhutto Zardari called them giants on the international stage and stated that he is still feeling the weight of history. He said that what motivates me and drives my passion is to fulfill their unfulfilled mission. We must live up to their expectations‚ I believe. These ideals are what we cherish and work for every day‚" Bhutto Zardari stated. ___ Munir Ahmed‚ an Associated Press journalist from Islamabad‚ contributed to the report.