Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has offered Pakistan’s services as a mediator to bring together US and China as it did decades ago.
In an interview with Newsweek, published on Monday, the prime minister said: “If China and the US so desire, Pakistan would be happy to play a positive role to bridge their differences, as we had done in the past.”
The interview revolved around national, regional and global issues and focused in particular on the role Pakistan could play in “preventing the world from sliding into an ever deeper set of crises”, as put by the publication.
PM Shehbaz characterised Pakistan’s foreign policy as one of “friendliness and goodwill towards all the nations of the world”.
“Pakistan has traditionally maintained good relations with China and the United States. Historically, it was Pakistan that acted as a bridge in opening up the relationship between the United States and the Peoples’ Republic of China,” he said.
The premier said that Pakistan has always underscored the need to avoid a confrontational approach. “Bloc politics and any drift towards cold war will not produce any positive results, and in fact would be counterproductive for growth and stability,” he stressed.
“Pakistan strongly believes that inter-state relations should be based on mutual respect and peaceful resolution of disputes by upholding the principles of the UN charter and international law,” he added.
To a question on what it could mean for Pakistan and the rest of the world, if nations were asked to choose sides, especially given the close ties Pakistan and China enjoy, PM Shehbaz said that while the relationship may be “very special”, Pakistan and the US “have also maintained a longstanding historic bilateral relationship which covers all issues of mutual interest”.
“The world can ill-afford descent into another era of Cold War or bloc politics. I believe polarisation would have serious consequences for the global economy afflicted by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine crisis,” the premier told Newsweek.
He said developing countries, like Pakistan, are “already suffering from external shocks to their socio-economic well-being, and do not desire aggravation of these challenges induced by major power rivalry”.