US administration to seek ‘productive’ ties with Pakistan, says scholar

Published February 10, 2021
This file photo shows Prime Minister Imran Khan and newly sworn in US President Joe Biden. — PM Imran's Instagram/Reuters
This file photo shows Prime Minister Imran Khan and newly sworn in US President Joe Biden. — PM Imran's Instagram/Reuters

WASHINGTON: The Biden administration would like to rebuild America’s relationship with Pakistan and make it more productive than it has been during the recent past, says a senior US scholar.

At a recent briefing on the new US administration’s foreign policies, James M. Lindsay, a senior vice president at the Council for Foreign Relations, also predicted a better understanding between the White House and the Pentagon on the deployment of American troops in Afghanistan.

Since their inauguration on Jan 20, several Biden administration officials have endorsed the Pentagon’s position that Washington could not withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by May, as stipulated in the US-Taliban peace agreement signed last year.

“The Biden administration would hope to find a way to improve relations with Pakistan,” said Mr Lindsay while responding to a question at the briefing which was arranged by the US State Department’s Foreign Press Centre.

Noting that the United States had had “a longstanding relationship with Islamabad,” Mr Lindsay pointed out that during this period both sides had also developed “lots of differences and grievances”. But “I think the Biden administration would like to do what it can to make that relationship more productive,” he added.

The US scholar argued that the Biden administration had inherited a complicated US relationship with Pakistan, and some of the issues between the two countries “sort of resonant here in the United States”.

One such issue, he said, was a recent Supreme Court decision in Pakistan to overturn the conviction of Ahmed Omer Sheikh, the prime suspect in the beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl.

The US Justice Department as well as the new Secretary of State Antony Blinken have urged Pakistan to ensure that those involved in the murder do not go free. Both also offered to bring Sheikh to the United States to face a trial in this country if Pakistan is reluctant to go ahead with the proceedings.

Mr Lindsay said that the administration would also have significant concerns about human rights issues in Pakistan and they did worry about “whether or not Pakistan is doing everything it can to prevent, contain, deter terrorists”.

Another major concern for the new administration would be the relations between India and Pakistan, he added, while pointing out that “it’s the one place in the world in which two nuclear-armed countries abut one another and have tense relations”.

Mr Lindsay also listed the China-Pakistan relationship among the issues that the Biden administration would like to discuss with Pakistan’s rulers, adding: “I think there’s … concern in a Biden presidency about the nature of the evolution of Pakistan’s relations with China.”

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2021

Opinion

The ECI headache
08 May 2021

The ECI headache

The ECI sat mute while BJP held huge rallies without following SOPs.
Engaging the enemy
08 May 2021

Engaging the enemy

The ghost of the Musharraf formula has started to haunt the current backchannel process.
Will OIC confront France?
Updated 08 May 2021

Will OIC confront France?

For Pakistan to keep its GSP-Plus status it will have to show the EU that it treats its blasphemy accused fairly.
Standing by Kashmir
Updated 07 May 2021

Standing by Kashmir

A comprehensive failure of governance is always a comprehensive moral failure of the governors.

Editorial

Updated 08 May 2021

Delayed poll debate

THE debate on electoral reforms is going nowhere. Even though the major political parties say reforms are critical,...
08 May 2021

Reducing deficit

THE numbers show that the government has managed to arrest growth in fiscal deficit — the difference between the...
08 May 2021

Rise in dog bites

ON Wednesday, an unusually high number of dog-bite cases were reported in Larkana, when 19 people — the majority ...
Reprimanding envoys
Updated 07 May 2021

Reprimanding envoys

The prime minister should have engaged with honest and respectable officers to identify how solutions can be found.
07 May 2021

Foreign funding case

THE foreign funding case against the PTI has become a never-ending tale. It has been dragging on for years and after...
07 May 2021

Water woes

IRRIGATION experts have voiced concern over the decline of freshwater flow through Kotri barrage, which has led to...