Pakistan needs strong defence owing to rough neighborhood: envoy 

Masood Khan warns international community of potent threat of terrorism.

CHARLOTTE (NC): Pakistan’s defense capabilities have to be built because the country has a rough neighborhood and we hope that defence ties between Pakistan and the United States continue, said Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Masood Khan. 

He said that Pakistan and United States should continue to invest in both and non-security realms.

Underscoring the fact that the threat in counter-terrorism 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.” 

“Pakistan and the United States should work for regional peace and stability through all diplomatic channels and tools,” he noted.

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

Ambassador Masood Khan made these remarks addressing a gathering of scholars, intellectuals and opinion-makers during Ambassador Circle Series organized by World Affairs Council of Charlotte, North Carolina. 

The Ambassador is on a two-day maiden visit to North Carolina, a state in the Southeastern region of the United States with a population of around 10 million and a GDP of $560 billion.

Briefing the attendees about the depth of Pak-US relations, the Ambassador said that the connection between Pakistan and the United States was anchored in values. 

“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. And we want to continue this partnership,” he said. 

Talking about post withdrawal period, the Ambassador noted that Pakistan helped United States not only with safe evacuation of 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 the with processing of their visas,” he said.  

He said that rapid 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 tremendous strides in tech industry. 

Thae 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,” stressed the ambassador.   

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 highlighted various forms of tourism including adventure, religious and eco-tourism that annually attracted millions of tourists from across the globe. He invited the gathering to visit Pakistan for personally experiencing rich tourism potential of the country. 

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.”

“Pakistan can be used by North Carolina as a manufacturing hub. We have the manufacturing infrastructure,” said the Ambassador. He noted that youth of Pakistan were ambitious and optimistic.

“I would say that beneath this veneer of dystopia projected by Pakistan’s detractors, what you have is a very bullish Pakistan particularly its youth. You will see that transformation soon,” concluded the Ambassador.   

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