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Questions for `Problemistan'

SUN JOURNAL

Envoy: Pakistan's ambassador to the United States discusses recent trends and events in her country, including the referendum yesterday on the country's presidency.

May 01, 2002|By Mark Matthews | Mark Matthews,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

The Bush administration, [when] it came in, undertook a review of its policy toward South Asia, and in fact was moving toward waiving nuclear-related sanctions on both Pakistan and India when 9-11 happened. Subsequently, it did waive these sanctions.

We think it's important for the U.S. to engage with both Pakistan and India to ensure that nuclear restraint is exercised. We don't want to get into an open-ended nuclear and missile arms race with India.

Are you worried that the United States is going to walk away from your region again, as it did after the Cold War ended?

This is a question which is being very widely asked in Pakistan. It is encouraging to hear from no less than President Bush, but other members of his administration as well, that the international community knows what happened, in the sense that it had walked away from the region and that it will not do so again.

What more would you like from the United States?

We've already built a foundation for a more broad-based and, hopefully, sustained relationship. Our Cold War relationship had only one anchor - a strategic anchor. This time around, since we are trying to craft and build a relationship for the post-Cold War period, we would like to see a relationship which has multiple tracks ... from [military] to education, to science and technology, and, of course, economic and trade. Our vision of the future relationship also rests on U.S. recognition of Pakistan as an influential country in the Muslim world.

The textile lobby is still very strong in Washington. Is that an obstacle to a good trade relationship?

We heard from the administration that this textile lobby did not enable it to give us the kind of market access that we wanted. We hope that in the future ... the United States as well as other Western countries will bring down their protectionist walls.

Is Benazir Bhutto still a friend of yours?

I have not been in touch with her for some time.

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