Khalilzad does not speak for Biden administration: US State Dept official

Published March 28, 2023
US State Department Spokesperson Vedant Patel addresses a press briefing on March 27. — AFP
US State Department Spokesperson Vedant Patel addresses a press briefing on March 27. — AFP

State Department Spokesperson Vedant Patel has clarified that former US envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad did not represent the country's foreign policy and did not speak for the administration of President Joe Biden.

Patel's statement came in response to a question asked during a press briefing on Monday (March 27) about Khalilzad's recent statement regarding the political situation in Pakistan.

Earlier this month, Khalilzad — who had served as the special envoy for Afghan reconciliation under both the Trump and Biden administrations — had said that Pakistan was “underperforming and falling far behind” India.

“Pakistan faces a triple crisis: political, economic, and security. Despite great potential, it is underperforming and falling far behind its archrival, India. It is time for serious soul-searching, bold thinking, and strategising,” he had remarked.

The former US ambassador had also criticised Pakistan for jailing its political leaders — particularly hinting at the recent police attempts to arrest PTI Chairman Imran Khan — and had proposed “two steps” to deal with the country’s challenges the first being to set a date for general elections in early June to “avert a meltdown”.

Commenting on the matter in the press briefing today, Patel said that Khalilzad was a private citizen.

"Any social media activity or comments or tweets that you might reference, those are done in his private capacity, does not represent US foreign policy, and he does not speak for this administration," he stated.

In response to another question regarding the political "chaos" in Pakistan, the spokesperson responded that any implication of violence, harassment or intimidation had no place in politics.

"As we do with our partners all around the world, we encourage all sides in Pakistan to respect the rule of law and allow the people of Pakistan to democratically determine their own country’s leadership pursuant to their own Constitution and laws," he added.

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