US hopes for Pakistan’s ‘democratic process to continue’: State Dept spox

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WASHINGTON: The United States wishes “for the democratic process to continue in Pakistan”, a spokesperson for the US Department of State told Geo News on Wednesday, adding that the country is a strong regional partner.

In an exclusive interview with Geo News here, Helena White, the spokesperson at the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, said: “Pakistan is our ally in the war against terrorism.”

“We understand and accept the sacrifices of Pakistan’s military and people in the war against terrorism,” she added.

White, who recently took up the State Department job, explained that US President Donald Trump believes whatever has happened in South Asia — especially in the context of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and terrorism — was not okay.

This is what he effectively meant with regard to the regional policy, she said.

In his August 2017 address, Trump had taken a subtle yet hard line — something that turned blunt and bitter over the next few months — when speaking about Pakistan’s relations with the US.

“Our commitment is not limited [and]our support is not a blank cheque,” he had said, indicating that Pakistan needed to take a stronger line against possible terrorist elements taking refuge in the country.

Interestingly, however, Trump said it may “be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan, but nobody knows if or when that will ever happen”.

Therefore, Pakistan — as well as the South Asian region — will benefit if it collaboratively works with the US in forming the new regional strategy for South Asia, said White, who is quite fluent in Urdu.

“Pakistan plays an important role in the region,” she said.

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