Biden urged to call Shehbaz

Washington, April 26 (IANS) A major US think tank urged President Joe Biden to call Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and reset Washington’s ties with Islamabad.
Bruce Riedel, one the writers of the Brookings report, was an adviser to the former Bill Clinton and Barack Obama administrations and is also close to the current Democratic set-up in Washington, says Dawn news.
The other writer, 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 US with an opportunity to reset its long-troubled relationship with the world’s fifth most populous country,” the writers argued in the report.
“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”, Dawn reported.
“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 Biden did not call Khan while he was Prime Minister, although Brookings argued he should.

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