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Sunday, May 22, 2022
EditorialWaiting for Biden’s call

Waiting for Biden’s call

With the start of the new government, the Biden government in the US has signalled positive signs to the Shehbaz government, though without a major breakthrough. The Pakistan-US ties in the last four decades have centred on the Americans’ interests in the wars in Afghanistan, and as soon as the war ended, the US would sign off Pakistan from its radar. Ironically, most of the time the friendly ties occurred during military dictators’ regimes, such as in the 1980s, the American government showered aid on the military dictator Ziaul Haq to supply arms and funds to the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviets. Later on, in the second round of the ties, the US worked with Pakistan to fight Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan under which Pakistani air bases and ports played a crucial role in timely supplies and intelligence sharing for the coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan. Those were times when Pakistan was regarded as a crucial partner and treated with respect by the US authorities as pursuing these wars was the US’ top priority. During wars, the primary victim remained in Pakistan in terms of physical infrastructure, human casualties, and civil-military balance. The end result was that democratic governments remained low-level partners.

In August last, when American and NATO forces withdrew from Afghanistan, since then, Pakistan has become a forbidden tree for the US. The Biden government might have some issues with the Imran government, but it should engage with the new government, excluding Afghanistan, India, and China factors, so that an era of development is launched in South Asia. A positive gesture from the White House will also strengthen the elected democratic forces in Pakistan. The policy of giving the cold shoulder to Islamabad will backfire in the long run. If the White House has any apprehension about Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan and previous prime minister Imran Khan’s anti-US stance, these issues can be talked out. It has been over a year since Biden has taken over the White House, but no high-profile visit has been made to Pakistan. Biden has yet to make a call to the new prime minister. He also did not make any gestures to Imran Khan while he was prime minister. The White House should call Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Who will be the beneficiary of renewed relations between Pakistan and the US? Of course, Pakistan first, and later on, Afghanistan and the whole South Asia region. The aim of the new engagement should strengthen the democratic process in Pakistan. Moreover, the US-Pakistan relationship should go beyond security, and possibilities for strengthening the economic relationship should be explored.

 

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