Pakistan hopeful of smooth sailing with Biden

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan is optimistic to have a smooth sailing with US President-elect Joe Biden after he takes over from Donald Trump in January.

Pakistan had wasted no time in congratulating Biden after he crossed the 270 electoral votes mark in the November elections.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan had good ties with the US during Trump’s tenure and Islamabad was optimistic about friendly relations with the Biden administration. “Pakistan and US have historically been close. The change in presidency will not affect the ties. The two countries have good bilateral ties,” he told The Nation. The FM said that Pakistan and the US had worked together on the Afghan peace and results had started pouring in. “Pakistan played a key role in the Afghan peace process. We have done this in partnership with the US,” he added.

Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said Pakistan and the US were determined to move forward together. “Our ties have been good during the Trump’s tenure and we hope to do well with Joe Biden too,” he said.

He said Pakistan attached great importance to its partnership with the US that has been a factor for peace and stability in the region.

“We look forward to working with the new administration to further strengthen our bilateral ties and continue our partnership to achieve peace, stability and prosperity in the region. We would also welcome resumption of structured dialogue with the US,” he said.

Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the US on January 20. Unlike his predecessor, Donald Trump, who pursued what he called an “America First” foreign policy and attempted to move the US outside the post-WWII multilateral status quo, Biden is expected to have a more traditional approach to foreign affairs, supportive of multilateral organisations and focused on restoring Washington’s international standing and alliances.

Biden’s rise to power is unlikely to drastically change the issue-specific and transactional nature of the relationship between the two nations, but it will present Pakistan with opportunities to strengthen its strategic and economic ties with the US – especially as the planned US withdrawal from Afghanistan forces Washington to redefine its interests in the region.

For 20 years, the war in Afghanistan shaped US-Pakistan ties. At a time when this dynamic is expected to change, Biden’s presence in the White House can help the foreign policy establishment in Islamabad forge new partnerships with Washington based on the two nation’s mutual geopolitical and economic interests.

Biden knows Pakistan as he travelled to the country several times as vice president. He was one of the principal architects, along with Senator John Kerry of the Kerry-Lugar Berman Act of 2009 that paved the way for the US providing annual civilian assistance of $ 1.5billion to Pakistan between 2010 and 2014.

Pakistan meanwhile, welcomed announcement of the agreement between Afghan parties on rules and procedures.

“Pakistan welcomes the announcement regarding the agreement reached on rules and procedures by the Afghan parties in Doha. This is another significant step forward,” said a foreign ministry statement yesterday.

It added: “The agreement reflects a common resolve of the parties to secure a negotiated settlement. It is an important development contributing towards a successful outcome of Intra-Afghan Negotiations, which we all hope for.”

Pakistan, it said, will “continue to support Intra-Afghan Negotiations, culminating in an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political solution paving the way for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.”

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