ISLAMABAD: The US is conveying a message to Pakistan to cut ties with China through various means, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Friday when asked about how Washington is exerting pressure on Islamabad.
While speaking to Geo News, the foreign minister said Pakistan has its own interests and would like to strengthen ties with the US as well.
“This is not a zero-sum game and if we are a friend of China, it doesn’t mean we are not friends with the US,” he said, adding that China has never asked them to break ties with the US.
When pressed on how China is actually pressuring Islamabad, he said: “No one says this directly there are ways to communicate such things through double meaning phrases,” he said.
“A China containment policy is underway at the global level. China is a rising power right now and possibly can overtake the US in the next few years. So there are fears in the West,” he said.
On the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Qureshi said, “whether anyone likes it or not, CPEC is our need. It is our economic corridor for energy and trade. It has to reach its logical end.”
He said that the CPEC will move ahead at all costs and no pressure will overwhelm Pakistan.
“There are hurdles being created and that is why we have made arrangements for the security to ensure the safety of the project. There are elements that can damage it. Indian and other forces are scared of its success.”
Expressing concerns over the worsening Afghan situation and Taliban’s advances towards the capital, the foreign minister said Pakistan wants peace and stability there and doesn’t want to see Kabul being attacked and captured.
He also advised the Afghan government to show flexibility in its attitude and sit down with the Taliban to sort its issues.
He said that the Taliban had long been demanding the withdrawal [of foreign forces], which is underway and will be completed soon.
Qureshi noted that both the Taliban and [President] Ashraf Ghani and his fellows are Afghans and they have to decide about their own future.
As far as Pakistan is concerned, he said, Islamabad is playing a constructive role and will continue to do so. “We are neither interfering in their affairs, nor do we have any intention to get involved.”
“Pakistan has no favourite in Afghanistan and to project this perception that we are supporting one group or another is completely wrong,” he stressed.
On a question about Islamabad’s worries about the Pakistani Taliban gaining ground in areas under the influence of the Afghan Taliban, he said, “If there’s a vacuum in Afghanistan, such negative forces take benefit of it and space will be available for terrorist networks. And in such a scenario, will increase our concerns.”
The top Pakistani diplomat said they are doing whatever they can and added “we have enhanced our border management with fencing and troops deployment.”
While responding to an Opposition leader’s statement that Pakistan should enhance its diplomatic outreach, Qureshi said, “We are in constant contact with regional countries and taking them into confidence. I have had discussions on the Afghan situation with Iranian, Chinese, Tajikistan and Russian foreign ministers.”