President-elect Trump’s surprise November phone conversation with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif underscored Pakistan’s continuing importance to U.S. interests in a stable South Asia. The new U.S. administration can expect to see this vital country hold national elections within 18 months. On January 30, the U.S. Institute of Peace hosted a conversation with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, the largest opposition party in parliament. The discussion addressed Pakistan’s serious internal security challenges; debate among Pakistani civilian and military leaders over the country’s domestic counterterrorism initiatives; and Pakistan’s broader political and democratic dynamics. As a new U.S. administration and Congress begin work, Mr. Bhutto Zardari also shared his perspective on the two countries’ relationship.
January's visit of Mr. Bhutto Zardari to Washington represents an opportunity for broader dialogue between Pakistan’s political establishment and the new U.S. administration, Congress, and the policy community. Mr. Bhutto Zardari recently announced plans to contest a by-election and join the National Assembly—a step that will elevate his role in the political opposition, and that foreshadows a busy political season leading toward Pakistan’s elections next year. This public conversation with him was co-sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
Chairman, Pakistan Peoples Party
James Carafano, Welcoming Remarks
Vice President, Heritage Foundation
Moeed Yusuf, Moderator
Associate Vice President, U.S. Institute of Peace