WASHINGTON: Pakistan faces growing hostility in the US capital, yet there are lawmakers who suggest continuing a relationship with Pakistan to encourage it to cooperate with the United States in the war against terrorism.
Congressman Brad Sherman, who met Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in Washington earlier this month, says that as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, he knows “the significance of US-Pakistan relationship and the importance of both the friendship between our two countries and our countries’ history of cooperation”.
“During his recent visit to Washington, I had the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Abbasi, and I look forward to continuing my work to bridge divides and strengthen our relationship,” he adds.
Mr Sherman is among 35 US lawmakers who sent messages of support on the Pakistan Day, each underlining the importance of a continued engagement with Pakistan and appreciating the contributions of the Pakistani-American community to their adopted homeland.
Senator Bob Casey, a member of the US Senate Finance Committee, says that the bilateral relationship between the United States and Pakistan also “continues to be critical to the security and stability of the South Asian region”.
Senator Chris Van Hollen, who was born in Karachi, emphasises the need for helping Pakistan in its “pursuit of economic prosperity, security, and a strengthened democracy”.
Senator Gary Peters a Michigan Democrat, says he looks forward to playing a role in “strengthening the relationship between Pakistan and the United States”.
Congressman Ed Royce, chairman the House Foreign Affairs Committee, argues that government initiatives are not enough for improving US-Pakistan ties. “There is no greater bridge between our countries than Pakistani-Americans,” he adds.
Congressman Brendan Boyle, another member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, believes that relations between the two nations are built on “shared values and mutual defence interests” and are “of great value to the citizens of each nation”.
Such lawmakers back some officials in the Trump administration who continue to urge Pakistan to do more for eliminating terrorism but also acknowledge that Pakistan has taken “some positive steps in the right direction”.
Those urging caution point out that Pakistan is not only a nuclear nation but also has a strategic location – “borders China” – and that’s why it would be a mistake to alienate it.
“We’ve certainly seen Pakistan take some positive steps in the right direction,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said at a recent news briefing when asked if the aid suspension had succeeded in persuading Pakistan to back US efforts to defeat Afghan Taliban.
“But a lot more needs to be done, in terms of Pakistan cracking down not just on the Taliban, but the Haqqani network and other terror networks as well,” she added.
Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2018