Nuclear Pakistan At the Nexus of China, Russia, Iran and US Geopolitical Interests Important For US: Centcom Chief

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US Senator Lindsey Graham, who visited Islamabad in January, is believed to have discussed with Pakistani leaders a proposal for a free trade agreement (FTA) in return for Islamabad’s assistance in ending the Afghan war.

PKONWEB Report (Washington/Islamabad) — Pakistan as a state possessing nuclear weapons sits at the nexus of Russian, Chinese, Indian, Iranian, and US geopolitical interests, and therefore will always be a country of importance to the US, said Commander of the US Central Command General Joseph Votel during a Congressional hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington DC.

Gen. Votel’s candid observation comes weeks after President Donald Trump wrote to Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking Pakistan’s proactive assistance in ending the 17-year old never-ending war in Afghanistan which has cost American taxpayers nearly $1 trillion and Pakistan more than $230 billion in economic losses.

PM Khan had said–after being elected in August 2018, that “Pakistan would only ally with the US for peace in Afghanistan and the region, and not for war”.

Gen Votel told American lawmakers, “We look to regional actors such as Pakistan to play constructive roles in achieving peace in Afghanistan as well as the whole of South Asia.”

The CENTCOM chief told the lawmakers that Pakistan has taken positive steps to assist Special US Representative of Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad in facilitating talks with the Taliban who want negotiated timeline for foreign troops withdrawal.

“With our strategic focus on reconciliation and regional security, Pakistan has a unique opportunity to make good on its promises of support to US efforts focused on finding a negotiated settlement to the Afghanistan conflict,” the Centcom Commander said.

He said that if Pakistan plays a positive role in achieving a settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan, “the US will have opportunity and motive to help Pakistan fulfill that role, as peace in the region is the most important mutual priority for the US and Pakistan”.

Pakistan, Votel said, presents the US with challenges and opportunities in the execution of its South Asia Strategy. But nearly a year after the strategy was introduced by President Donald Trump, the outcomes are inconclusive and the verdict on the policy remains divided.

General John W. Nicholson, the then Commander of NATO’s Operation Resolute Support said at a NATO press conference last year that “the objective of the U.S. South Asia strategy has been reconciliation.”

US Senator Lindsey Graham, who visited Islamabad in January, is believed to have discussed with Pakistani leaders a proposal for a free trade agreement (FTA) in return for Islamabad’s assistance in ending the Afghan war.

In recent days, the United States and the Taliban–with Pakistan’s assistance, reportedly agreed to a framework for a potential deal – one that could involve the Taliban denying space to international terror groups and to provide the Americans a face-saving exit from Afghanistan.

Though U.S. and Taliban representatives have met numerous times over the years, this marks the first time they have reached a framework agreement.

During the six days of talks between the US and the Taliban in January, both sides touted “progress”.

However, according to The Diplomat, “many envisioned endgames have come and gone but the prospects for peace and stability remain as elusive as ever. What transpires in the Washington, D.C., beltway regarding Afghanistan not only impacts the individual strategies of major players like Pakistan, China, Russia, Iran and India but also the dynamics of amity and enmity among them”.

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