Biden urged to call Shehbaz

Published April 26, 2022
A combination photo of US President Joe Biden (L) and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. — AFP/DawnNewsTV
A combination photo of US President Joe Biden (L) and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. — AFP/DawnNewsTV

WASHINGTON: A major US think tank — Brookings — urged President Joe Biden on Monday to call Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and reset America’s ties with Pakistan.

One of the writers of this report, Bruce Riedel, was an adviser to the Clinton and Obama administrations and is also close to the current Democratic set-up in Washington. The other, Madiha Afzal, is a fellow at the Centre for Middle East policy.

“The end of American involvement in Afghanistan and the change in leadership in Pakistan presents the United States with an opportunity to reset its long-troubled relationship with the world’s fifth most populous country,” they argue in their paper.

“President Biden should initiate a high-level dialogue with new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who will be in power for up to a year before the next election is held.”

The authors noted that because US policy was focused on fighting wars in Afghanistan, “our primary partners in Pakistan were the intelligence service and the military. Less attention was devoted to the civilian government”.

“Now Washington can engage with Islamabad without prioritising Afghanistan issues at the expense of our broader interests in regional stability with India and China, encouraging development in South Asia, and supporting the strengthening of the elected democratic forces in Pakistan,” they argued. “America also has an interest in balancing somewhat the influence of China, Pakistan’s closest ally, on decision-making in Islamabad.”

The authors noted that the Biden administration, and in particular the White House, had given Pakistan a relative cold shoulder to date — “irked … ostensibly with then-prime minister Imran Khan publicly criticising the US”.

They noted that Mr Biden did not call Mr Khan while he was prime minister, although Brookings argued he should.

Urging the White House to call Shehbaz Sharif, the authors pointed out that Mr Sharif is a three-time former chief minister of Punjab, and brother of three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Course correction
Updated 24 Feb, 2024

Course correction

PTI should not abandon its power and responsibility while expecting an external stakeholder to set things right.
The plot thickens
Updated 24 Feb, 2024

The plot thickens

THE recent explosive allegations by Liaquat Ali Chattha, the former commissioner of Rawalpindi, have thrust the...
Trigger-happy police
24 Feb, 2024

Trigger-happy police

ARE the citizens of Karachi becoming fair game again? There were some grisly signs of a rapid return to living...
What next for PTI?
Updated 23 Feb, 2024

What next for PTI?

THE incoming government has been carved up. With the major offices apportioned between the PML-N and PPP, the...
Tackling debt
23 Feb, 2024

Tackling debt

MANY would tend to describe a new report warning that the country is headed for “inevitable default”, which will...
Imprisoned abroad
23 Feb, 2024

Imprisoned abroad

THE issue of Pakistani prisoners imprisoned in foreign jails crops up regularly, particularly during parliamentary...