National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf has said that Pakistan has other options if US President Joe Biden continues to ignore the country’s leadership.
“The president of us hasn’t spoken to the prime minister of such a crucial country who the US itself says is make-or-break in some cases, in some ways, in Afghanistan — we struggle to know the signal, right?” Mr. Yusuf told The Financial Times in an interview.
“We’ve been told whenever that… [the phone call]will happen, it’s technical reasons or whatever. But frankly, people don’t believe it,” he said. “If a call may be a concession, if a security relationship may be a concession, Pakistan has options,” he added, refusing to elaborate.
The US State Department, however, has assured Islamabad that Washington recognizes Pakistan’s vital role in restoring peace in Afghanistan and needs the country to play that role. “Pakistan has much to realize and can still have a critical role, be well-positioned to possess a task in supporting the outcome” in Afghanistan, said US State Department’s spokesman Ned Price.
Briefing journalists in Washington on Monday, Mr. Price said that “not only us seeks, but that a lot of of our international partners, many of the countries within the region also seek” this supporting role from Pakistan. “So, we’ll still work and speak closely with our Pakistani partners on this,” he added.
But The Financial Times reported on Tuesday that in an interview to its correspondent in Washington, Mr. Yusuf complained about President Biden’s failure to contact Prime Minister Imran Khan as Washington sought help to prevent the Taliban from taking up. “The snub from Washington comes because the Taliban has captured swaths of territory across Afghanistan during a ruthless offensive emboldened by the US pullout,” the report added.
The newspaper noted that while Mr. Yusuf didn’t elaborate on his options, “Pakistan has cultivated deep ties with its ‘iron brother’ China, which has invested billions in infrastructure projects as a part of its Belt and Road Initiative.”
A Biden administration official told FT: “There are still a variety of world leaders President Biden has not been ready to speak with personally yet. He looks forward to speaking with Prime Minister Khan when the time is true .”
The report acknowledged that the diplomatic affront was the newest setback in US-Pakistan relations after their cooperation during the war on terrorism following the 9/11 attack on the dual towers by Al Qaeda.
Under the Trump administration, the US severed $2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan after Donald Trump accused his ally of “nothing but lies & deceit”. After Trump made a affect the Taliban that relied on help from Pakistan, however, he invited Mr. Khan to the White House.
A person conversant in last week’s discussions between Mr. Yusuf and his American counterpart Jake Sullivan told FT: “The conversation about Afghanistan had been tough but that securing a political settlement … could help improve the US-Pakistan relationship dramatically.”