Pakistan on PM Modi's US visit: 'No problems with US-India ties, but not at our cost'

Pak Minister Khawaja Asif called India "a big market" and theirs a vulnerable economy


As Prime Minister Narendra Modi readies to embark on a state visit to the US on Tuesday, Pakistan has responded to a significant diplomatic move, stating it has "no problem with the United States deepening its ties with India, provided it does not come at the cost of Pakistan."

Modi's official state visit to the US at the invitation of President Joe Biden is considered crucial for both countries as the discussions are likely to focus on healthcare, technology, renewable energy, education and defence.

The high-profile visit has turned into a talking point in Islamabad too as  Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif stated that the country "wanted good relationships with its neighbours and regional partners."

"I think we do not have any problem with the United States developing a partnership with India if it is not at the cost of Pakistan," Asif told  Newsweek in an exclusive interview.

"We have common borders with China, we have common borders with Afghanistan, Iran, India. We would like to improve our relationships with them if the relationship is not good. We want to live in peace. If there is no peace there, we will never be able to restore our economy the way we want to restore it," he said. 

Khawaja Asif Pakistan Defence Minister Khwaja Asif

Asif added that "the Indian outlook towards regional politics completely changed, because it is a Hindu nationalist government" and this has worsened the ties between the two countries.

He, however, acknowledged that India is a big market and Pakistan is a vulnerable economy. "Obviously, India is a very big market, over 1.3 billion people. Everywhere in the world, the other big economies will need to have them as partners. But Pakistan is not a very big economy, and [is] a vulnerable economy. All we have is a geographical location, which is strategic, which attracts, I would say, not all the good things, it sometimes attracts some things which really make us even more vulnerable," the Defence Minister added. 

Asif added that he felt appreciation was required in Washington about Pakistan's situation. "We should not be pushed into a situation where we have to make some very hard choices," he added. "Our relationship with America for us is very valuable. It has its history. It has some disappointments, some huge disappointments, but still we value our relationship with the United States and we want that relationship to flourish," the minister said.

The Pakistan Minister's response comes as Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan recently said the US expects a transformational moment in India ties during Modi's trip.

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