This blog post was contributed by Urwah Ahmad, Global Communications Fellow at Meridian International Center.
On February 4, 2021, Asad Majeed Khan, the Ambassador of Pakistan to the U.S. joined Eric Ham, Political Analyst at The Washington Diplomat, for a Global 360 conversation about topics ranging from Pakistan-U.S. relations in the context of the Biden Administration and the regional, security and economic situation in Kashmir.
Ham shared that global challenges will only “be solved by nations working together and in common,” echoing President Biden’s address to the U.S. State Department on February 4, 2021. “America’s alliances are our greatest asset,” he noted. Ambassador Khan commented that this was a significant and symbolic address and a message to people around the globe on “the importance that [President Biden’s] administration is going to attach to diplomacy.
“We live in a world today where your problem is my problem… this is an integrated world,” Ambassador Khan said. He added that addressing the COVID-19 crisis will require the international community to come together not only now, but also when addressing a range of future challenges and issues.
The ambassador also touched on the topic of the Kashmir Solidarity Day, which was observed on February 5 by the consulate in D.C. as well as by Pakistani and other communities around the world. He noted that this was a way to stand with and show solidarity for “the oppressed people of Kashmir, and our way of reminding the world that Kashmir is the longest unresolved, outstanding dispute on the U.N. Security Council.”
He pointed to three clear dimensions to the dispute, which are the legal, humanitarian, peace and security dimensions. These include issues such as the revoking of article 370, and the dynamics of the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and India. Ambassador Khan also stressed the importance of dealing with the humanitarian crisis first, due to the hardships being faced by the people of Kashmir that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. He suggested that a humanitarian approach could potentially pave the way to de-escalation and assuage tension in the area.
Ambassador Khan and Ham also discussed the situation in Afghanistan. They spoke about Pakistan’s role in the facilitation of the peace-making process. Ambassador Khan stated, “The only way forward is through dialogue and reconciliation.” He mentioned three key milestones that have been reached, which include the U.S.–Taliban agreement, the Intra-Afghan negotiations process and the agreement within the Intra-Afghan negotiations which set up the rules and procedures. The Ambassador said all parties need to come together to deal with the situation which has been going on for more than 40 years.
The speakers ended the conversation with the future priorities for Pakistan and its relationship with the U.S. under a Biden administration. Ambassador Khan looks forward to increasing the anchors of their relationship, which “is not just limited or restricted to security issues, or the Kabul prism, or Bejing Prism or the New Delhi Prism, but a relationship that stands on its own.” He discussed how President Biden brings both necessary experience and understanding of the bilateral and multilateral relationships, and he is hopeful for a future with continued and strengthened diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Pakistan.
As an organization that convenes global leaders and aims to create a space for the exchange of dialogue, ideas and collaboration on solutions to today’s most pressing global challenges, we look forward to possibly being a catalyst to discussions like this one.