WASHINGTON– Pakistan is “seriously considering” holding a regional conference on violent extremism and ISIS recruiting of European and American citizens, Pakistani Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani said Tuesday.
Jilani, speaking to reporters at a breakfast meeting, said Pakistan is talking with the U.S. on ways to eliminate the rise of radicalization of young people.
He also emphasized the strong relationship between the two countries, despite a recent Pew Research Center poll showing 38 percent of Pakistanis consider the United States a threat.
“The U.S. ranking in Pakistan is somewhat improving,” he said. “We must work to redeem the damage.”
He noted that Pakistanis looked favorably on the U.S. back-to-back election wins of a black president, which “speaks volumes about the democratic progress of America,” and urged Americans to gain a better understanding of Islam and the countries in which it is a dominant religion.
“To paint an entire community with one size brush will not be liked by Muslims, as with any other community,” Jilani said.
Jilani also urged more cooperation from President Barack Obama in the energy and economic sectors.
The proposed Iran nuclear energy deal would benefit Pakistan for “the simple reason that nobody can afford any more of this tension between Iran and the international community,” Jilani said. Also, pulling sanctions from one country “indirectly reduces sanctions on a whole lot of other countries.”
Last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Sen. Rand Paul, a possible presidential candidate in 2016, said America should stop sending money to nations that oppose the U.S., pointing to Pakistan.
“It angers me to see [people] burning our flag and chanting ‘Death to America’ in countries that receive our foreign aid,” he said. “I say not one penny more to these haters of America.”
Obama’s choice to pull troops out of Afghanistan has received both support and ridicule from the Pakistani people, Jilani said. He said he “respects the sovereign decision” of the U.S. The ambassador repeatedly made comments similar to this one–noting ongoing conversations between America and Pakistan, but ultimately that American decisions are sovereign.
Since the U.S. began withdrawing troops last year, Pakistan is increasing its troops and working closely with Afghanistan to combat the Taliban.
“I am very optimistic about the next five years and the pragmatic manner of the current Afghan government,” he said.