Washington DC: Former US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Richard Boucher said that he is impressed with the determination of Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan who continues to raise concern for the poor people of Pakistan.
In an exclusive interview with The Frontier Post, Richard Boucher said that politics in Pakistan has transformed and many new political parties are emerging. He further said that it is encouraging to see Pakistan having a growing middle class, increased modern population, advancement in democracy, rooting out corruption and becoming more tolerant as a society. At the same time Boucher also urged Pakistan to protect its borders.
With regard to recent visit of US special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, the former Assistant Secretary said that he would suggest that America should focus on one thing at a time and prioritize the issues. He further said that having peace in Afghanistan will also bring tremendous improvements in Pakistan.
Richard Boucher said that Pakistan should focus on the recent statement of US Secretary of State, Mike Pampeo who said that “good things could happen.” But for these good things to happen, Richard Boucher said that Pakistan must help the US in bringing peace in Afghanistan.
With regard to Indian influence in Afghanistan, Boucher said that lndia should limit its role in Afghanistan.
With regrd to Russian influence in Afghanistan, Boucher said that it is not something to be too excited about. “ Russia is just checking alternatives and supporters in Afghanistan” Boucher added.
When asked about the recent Russian/Indian weapons deal, Boucher said that both of these countries have had several such deals in past and it is not something that caught too much of his attention.
In reply to a question about the non importance given by different US government since 2001 to the Pakhtun population in Afghanistan, Richard Boucher said that he does not agree with this notion. He said that after 911 in America, when the US came into Afghanistan, the Taliban were on the run and that made many Pakhtuns move away from Kabul and thus making it difficult for US government to reach them. “But if you look at the development work in Afghanistan, Pakhtun dominant areas have been given a lot of importance” Boucher added.
When asked about the Pakhtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), the former Assistant Secretary said that “ I am still trying to find out who these guys really are.”
In the end of the interview, Richard Boucher urged both Pakistan and Afghanistan to eliminate the menace of drugs trafficking from their countries otherwise it will continue to fund those elements which will try to bring instability to their country.