Pakistan needs strong defence in view of its location in ‘rough’ neighbourhood: Masood Khan



WASHINGTON, Pakistan has a “rough” neighbourhood that require strong defence capabilities, Ambassador Masood Khan said on Wednesday at an event in Charlotte, North Carolina,  while hoping that Islamabad’s defence ties with the US will continue.

“We have had strategic partnerships. We have had peaks and troughs. We had agreements, disagreements. But we have remained steadfast partners throughout these seven and a half decades,”  the Pakistani envoy  told a gathering of scholars, intellectuals and opinion-makers during ‘Ambassador Circle Series’ organized by World Affairs Council of Charlotte, North Carolina. “And”, he added, “we want to continue this partnership.”

The Council’s ‘Ambassador Circle Series’   provides opportunity for t he current and former ambassadors and high-ranking government officials who visit Charlotte to share their insights on diplomatic relationships between the United States and nations around the world .

Underscoring  that the terrorist threat was still potent, the Ambassador said that “it has not disappeared because the United States has come back (from Afghanistan).

“It is a lethal threat not only to Pakistan and Afghanistan,  but  to United States and its allies in the region, Masood Khan added

Pakistan and the United States, he said,  should work for regional peace and stability through all diplomatic channels and other peaceful means.

“In the non-security items, we should invest in trade and investment and increase United States FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) to Pakistan,” he added.

Stressing that Islamabad-Washington ties are strong, he told the gathering that Pakistan helped the United States not only with safe evacuation of its troops but also relocation of 75,000 Afghans. “As I speak to you, there is a large caseload of  Afghans waiting to come to the United States and we are helping them as processing of their visas continues,” he said. 

He said that the growth of tech industry of Pakistan in recent past was a promising in context of strengthened Pak-US relations as the country was part of the overall ecosystem which has made strides in tech industry.

The Ambassador highlighted that US venture capitalists were funding tech startups and around 80 US companies, mostly Fortune 500, were undertaking profitable business ventures in Pakistan.

“We are bound to be the next tech hub for the region,”  he said.

Noting that US was the biggest single country export destination for Pakistan with $8.4 billion of exports of commodities and services, the Ambassador highlight healthcare, Climate Change, technology, and agriculture where the two sides could have an interface.

To a question about tourism potential of the country, the Ambassador said various forms of tourism, including adventure, religious and eco-tourism that annually attracted millions of tourists from across the globe.

Responding to another question, the Ambassador stressed the need to strengthen cooperation in IT and new technologies including AI, blockchain, robotics, 3D printing and tech start-ups.

“Tech start-ups create new opportunities for businesses for the United States, for Pakistan and the region.”