Bilawal says US, Pakistan in talks to boost trade

In WASHINGTON Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that Pakistan-US ties were no longer hyphenated with Afghanistan and India as Washington and Islamabad were discussing ways to enhance trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

“Not only I am presently surprised but I am absolutely impressed by the new foreign policy approach of the US towards Pakistan,” said Bilawal while responding to a question related to Pakistan-US ties at the Wilson Centre in Washington, reported foreign media.

“There is also an increased feeling in our (Pak-US) interaction that we are no longer hyphenated — Af-Pak or Pak-India. Only Pak-US that’s a good thing,” he remarked. Bilawal said Pakistan and the US have for a long time seen each other through the prism of Afghanistan. “It is heartening to know that this time during engagements with US officials, we just didn’t think and talked about Afghanistan. We talked about enhancing trade and economic cooperation,” he remarked.

Bilawal also cited a recent visit of US Special Representative on Business and Commercial Affairs Dilawar Syed to Pakistan, saying that bilateral ties between the two countries were improving. “We had an incredibly pleasant conversation not only recently but from the first day I took over as foreign minister,” said Bilawal while responding to a question about his meeting with US Secretary of State Blinken.

While responding to a question that some sections of the media were reporting that “US schooled Pakistan” on maintaining ties with India and China, Bilawal dismissed the reports, saying “he (Blinken) is an incredible human being and can never talk in such tone”.

The foreign minister said that maintaining relations with India were difficult today than it was in 2010 as “Mr Modi is not Mr Manmohan Singh”.

“He (Modi) is quiet actively engaged in taking India away from its secular roots in line with his Hindutva ideology. PM Narendra Modi-led regime is violating human rights in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) and trying to covert Muslim-majority region into a Hindu majority one.”

Speaking about Afghanistan, Bilawal urged the international community to increase engagement with the interim-government led by Taliban to increase their capability to take on terrorist outfits.

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