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Mending ties

There was a marked deterioration in ties after Imran Khan, who was ousted as Prime Minister recently through a vote in Parliament, accused the United States of trying to dislodge his government.

SNS | New Delhi |

America has taken the initiative to mend fences with Pakistan. In the aftermath of Imran Khan’s sniper attack, Washington has congratulated Shehbez Sharif who has taken over as Prime Minister. After Imran’s stout condemnation of what he alleged was unwarranted interference, the US has let it be known that it values the bilateral equation and is looking forward to continuing the “long-standing cooperation”. In effect, America has signalled its intent to improve ties with Pakistan under the new regime.

Islamabad’s equation with Washington has at best been lukewarm under President Joe Biden. There was a marked deterioration in ties after Imran Khan, who was ousted as Prime Minister recently through a vote in Parliament, accused the United States of trying to dislodge his government. Sure, the allegations had been bluntly denied by the US administration. Islamabad’s ties with Washington had been under stress since February when Imran Khan went ahead with his scheduled visit to Moscow. The objective was to meet President Putin, a critical appointment in the planner that coincided with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

As Secretary of State Antony Blinken has stated: “Pakistan has been an important partner on wide-ranging issues of mutual interest for nearly 75 years and we value our relationship. The United States congratulates the newly-elected Pakistani Prime Minister, Shehbez Sharif, and we look forward to continuing our long-standing cooperation with Pakistan’s government”. America, Mr Blinken said, views a “strong and democratic Pakistan” as essential for the interests of the long-standing ties with Islamabad. The presentation was in a sense an exercise to contain the damage that Imran might have caused in his sunset phase.

The Pakistan Prime Minister’s office has welcomed Washington’s reaffirmation of the long-standing ties with Islam- abad. “The new government wishes to constructively and positively engage with the United States to promote shared goals of peace, security and development in the region. We look forward to deepening this important relationship on the principles of equality, mutual interest and mutual benefit.”

Blinken’s statement came a day after the Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby, said that the United States had a “healthy military-to-military relationship with Pakistan’s armed forces. We have every expectation that will be able to continue to be the case.” America has recognised that Pakistan plays a key role in the geopolitics of the region. “We recognise that Pakistan and the Pakistani people are themselves victims of terrorist attacks inside their own country. We recognise that we have shared interests with Pakistan with respect to security and stability in that part of the world.” While the essay towards mending fences in a direly sensitive swathe of the world is to be welcomed, it is fervently to be hoped that America will desist from interfering in a country’s internal affairs. Such interference can only exacerbate tensions. Pakistan cries out for stability.