ISLAMABAD                      -               Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed has said that Pakistan’s long stand­ing position that the United States should talk to the Taliban has now been finally vindicated with the up­coming peace deal and Pakistan has now more ‘strategic space’ to pursue its core foreign policy interests.

He made these remarks during the Senate Standing Committee on For­eign Affairs Chairman meeting held here on Monday at the Parliament House which was briefed by promi­nent foreign policy expert, Professor Vali Nasr from the United States on “Pakistan-US relations, President’s Trump visit to India and US views about China, Iran and Afghanistan.”

Senator Sayed said that with Indi­an Prime Minister Narendra Modi forced to look inwards because of his follies in Kashmir and India, Trump was dependent on Pakistan for the Afghan peace process which he sees pivotal to his election victo­ry in 2020 and the situation in the Gulf between Iran and its neigh­bours “give Pakistan a geo-political breather to protect, promote, pur­sue its foreign policy interests in the region, especially CPEC, Kashmir is­sue, relations with Iran and Afghan­istan.

Professor Vali Nasr, on the oc­casion, said that Pakistan is much closer to Washington on Afghan is­sue than New Delhi and peace in Af­ghanistan “opens the door for Paki­stan for a new relationship with the US beyond security ties.”

He also mentioned another plus for Pakistan that the image of the country is becoming different and urged Pakistani policy makers to have close coordination with Iran on Afghanistan as no political solu­tion is possible without Iran. Prof. Vali Nasr also said that there were eight Indian centres at think tanks in Washington DC while there is none from Pakistan.

Comments of Professor Vali Nasr sparked an animated discussion in the committee. Senator Sherry Reh­man urged the need for a sustained and substantive economic engage­ment with the United States beyond just the security dimension because she feared that the “moment” for Pa­kistan being a facilitator on Afghani­stan might soon be forgotten.

Senator Sirajul Haq raised the is­sue of the ecology and environment of Afghanistan and Pakistan being damaged by decades of conflict with the result that this can also affect fu­ture generations like it happened in the case of Vietnam and Cambodia and he urged that Pakistan seek rep­arations from the US for the damage caused by the American wars in the region.