Rebuilding the US-Pakistan Relationship

Her Excellency Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, visited the South Asia Center on February 26 to discuss moving forward in the US-Pakistan relationship.
February 26, 2013

On February 26, the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center held a conversation with Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Sherry Rehman, on “Rebuilding the US-Pakistan Relationship”.

The US-Pakistan relationship has recently begun to stabilize, but still remains fragile. Ambassador Rehman emphasized the importance of trade and economic ties in building relationships, not just between the US and Pakistan, but also between Pakistan and the rest of South Asia. She stressed the importance of engaging with the society in addition to political leaders, and the strides made in terms of democratic development, particularly in the area of women’s rights, despite the challenges Pakistan has faced in the past few years.

With the immediate impact of the NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan on everyone’s mind, not only in Washington but also in Pakistan and the whole region, Ambassador Rehman stated that Pakistan had “a clear strategic goal of winning and securing the peace together”.  “We will support all roadmaps to reconciliation and negotiated settlements, but we will not […] play favorites in Afghanistan, […] say or behave in any way that suggests that Afghanistan is our strategic backyard”, she added.  

With regard to the question of Pakistan’s position on the use of drones in the region, Ambassador Rehman stated that she wanted to be moderate: “It’s very ambiguous. […] We see them as a breach of international law and our sovereignty as much as we see terrorists breaching it. […] we also think that it has hit diminishing returns for the United States. […] So […] more thought needs to be given.”

Questions from the audience touched upon issues such as best practices for both economic and environmental development within Pakistan, the role of the military in Pakistan’s policy, economic interaction between India and Pakistan, and protection of minorities.

Source: Atlantic Council, “Rehman: Sustainable US-Pakistan Relationship Must Focus on Trade and Economic Ties”.

A transcript can be found here

Photo by Atlantic Council.