Islamabad - Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi has said that Pakistan wants to further improve its relations with the United States and is looking forward to cement ties with the incoming administration.

In an interview with PTV, he said there is a need to enhance cooperation between the two countries through people to people contacts and visits of parliamentary delegations, academic scholars, and cultural and media representatives.

He said the US did not have policy of inviting foreign leaders for president’s inaugural ceremony but anyone could be called in private capacity.

Referring to his visit of the US last month, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs said he also had fruitful meetings with the people who were under consideration for inclusion in the new US government.

He said his visit to the US aimed at creating a positive image of Pakistan in the outgoing and incoming US establishment and Congress, besides think tanks and media. He said he briefed the US officials about the economic achievements of Pakistan and how Pakistan has played a vital role in war against terrorism.

He said our narrative has improved during the last three years which also is of interest for the US. He said US General Nicholson who visited FATA along with Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa lately has appreciated the improved law and order situation in Pakistan’s tribal belt.

Replying to a question regarding the 39-member alliance of Muslim countries led by Saudi Arabia, he said Pakistan is very much part of this group. He said the primary purpose of this alliance is to counter extremism and terrorism in the Muslim Ummah and it is not against any country. Secondly, its agenda is not only military but also to give a new narrative to the world of Muslim countries’ cooperation with each other. Thirdly, the alliance wants to increase better coordination and cooperation among the Muslim countries.

He said there should be no misunderstanding in Pakistan’s role in this alliance. Pakistan has never been a part of rivalry between any two Muslim countries. He said after our visit to Saudi Arabia on the issue of Yemen, we visited Tehran, in order to mend fences between two brotherly Islamic countries. He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has a track record of playing the role of a mediator in resolving the conflicts between Muslim countries.

Fatemi said Pakistan had adopted a principled stand on Syria that no foreign power has the right to intervene in the internal affairs of that country. He said Pakistan has an important place in the comity of Muslim nations and is consulted on all important regional and international issues.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs said Pakistan is an active partner of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

On Afghanistan, he said Pakistan stands with its neighbour against extremism and terrorism. He said Pakistan has paid a major price and offered numerous sacrifices to contain the scourge of terrorism. Fatemi said Pakistan has genuinely made efforts to bring peace in that war-torn country.

Fatemi said whole leadership of Taliban, including Haqqani network, has been pushed out of our soil with the help of Operation Zarb-e-Azb. He said no discrimination was made while hitting the terrorists in that operation.

He said Afghan government should seriously hold talks with Pakistan to resolve any issues.

Referring to peaceful neighbourhood vision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, he said the Prime Minister has always genuinely desired that Pakistan has good relations with all neighbouring countries, including India. Fatemi said Pakistan wants to resolve all outstanding issues with India through talks.

On China Pakistan Economic Corridor, he said the project will change the economic outlook of Pakistan in future. He said our foreign policy priorities in 2017 are to consolidate relations with Russia and increase cooperation with Central Asian states with a solid framework. He said Pakistan has exemplary relations with China and these will go to new heights with the culmination of CPEC. He said China will help transform the economic landscape of Pakistan in the coming decades.

Fatemi said Pakistan had the policy of not intervening in the affairs of other countries.

He said India had failed in getting Pakistan isolated in the world. He said the international community and some Indian intellectuals admitted that the Kashmir movement was totally indigenous freedom struggle. The prime minister had courageously highlighted the Kashmir issue at international forums, he added.