Prime Minister Imran Khan’s several tweets offering cooperation to the newly elected US President Joe Biden on a number of issues, including going after dirty money and bringing transparency to the global financial system, have remained unanswered. Meanwhile President Biden has spoken with Indian PM Narebdra Modi, offering to fight against the covid-19 pandemic, renewing partnership on climate change, rebuilding the global economy to benefit the people of both countries and standing together against the scourge of global terrorism. The leaders also agreed to continue to work together to contain China in the Indo-Pacific region.
This indicates that despite the transformation of India into a totalitarian state where dissenting voices are suppressed, US-India relations continue to be of a strategic nature while the relationship with Pakistan remains transactional.
Pakistan’s direct interaction with top of the Biden Administration is confined so far to a single telephone call between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The two discussed how to ensure accountability for convicted terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and others responsible for the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl. The Secretary reinforced US concern about the Pakistani Supreme Court ruling and potential release of these prisoners. In addition, the Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed the importance of continued US-Pakistan cooperation on the Afghan peace process, support for regional stability, and the potential to expand trade and commercial ties.
James M. Lindsay, a senior vice president at the Council for Foreign Relations, has pointed out that the new US administration has concerns about human rights issues in Pakistan and wants to ensure whether Pakistan is working hard to prevent, contain and deter terrorists. It has also questions about the nature of the evolution of Pakistan’s relations with China.
President Biden is not willing to withdraw all troops -from Afghanistan by May. Pakistan will be required to persuade the Afghan Taliban to agree to a ceasefire, a delayed exit of foreign troops and a democratic government in Afghanistan respecting human rights including equal treatment for women.
China has invested billions of dollars in the development of Pakistan’s infrastructure when no other country was willing to do so. It is now helping Pakistan in boosting the country’s industrial and agricultural sectors. One expects Mr Khan to persuade the Biden Administration for similar cooperation. Mr Khan’s ability to cope with the foreign policy challenges would be under watch.