For this, Pakistan will seek to support Biden’s regular visits to Pakistan since the 1990s, his old connections with and his knowledge of Pakistan as well as his experience as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Barack Obama’s White. After all, Biden was the original architect of the Kerry-Lugar bill and the policy of engaging with civilian government to support a lasting long-term relationship with Pakistan.
The main starting point in its strategy is to emphasize the necessity of Indo-Pakistani equivalence and the need for the US to adopt a balanced and equal approach to both countries. While Pakistan’s quest for equality with India is as old as a subcontinent partition, recently in an interview with Der Spiegel, Imran Khan had reiterated that Pakistan expected equal treatment from the US regarding India.
Another key component, signaling its insecurity, is Biden’s warning to India. Thus, Imran Khan in his interview said: ‘The US thinks that India will contain China, which is a completely wrong premise. India is a threat to its neighbors, to China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and to us. Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN Munir Akram in an interview called the US-India strategic partnership a “wrong choice” and advised that improving ties with Pakistan could prove extremely beneficial to the next administration.
An addition to this theme is to try to remove a central pillar of Indo-American relations – common democratic values - by emphasizing that such values were rapidly spreading in India; that India was becoming exclusivist, violating democracy and human rights, and most recently, Imran Khan spreads India to become an extremist and fascist country under the BJP government.
Undoubtedly the biggest expectation is over Kashmir – that Biden will strongly support ‘American’ values which means a greater emphasis on democracy, human rights and freedom of expression worldwide. Translated into action, Pakistan hopes this will mean that Biden as president would forcefully address the issue of removing J&K’s special status, a factor in respecting human rights, and acquit India of its alleged oppression there.
Much has been done about the statement of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in October 2019 that: ‘We need to remind the Kashmiris that they are not alone in the world. We are following the situation. There is a need to intervene if the situation requires it. ‘Pakistan hopes this translates into political action.
Another concern is Washington’s policy on China. Pakistan hopes that under Biden the US would find a way to compete with China without conflict. This can ensure that Pakistan does not become completely dependent on China and the US yet finding some use for it.
Pakistan is concerned that if Biden goes Trump’s path in relations with China, it will have a negative impact on him, on his need for international financial institutions like the IMF, in trying to pull himself out of the “gray list” of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and especially the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Of concern to Pakistan are Kamala Harris’ views on Uighur human rights abuses. In an interview, she had said: ‘China’s abysmal record of human rights must be prominently reflected in our policy towards the country. We cannot ignore China’s massive ban on more than one million Uighur Muslims in “re-education camps” in the Xinjiang region, or its widespread abuse of oversight over political and religious oppression. “If it were the Biden administration to make this an important element in its China policy, Imran Khan would no longer be able to fabricate ignorance about the Uyghur problem as he has done in the past.
Pakistan will also take a closer look at Biden’s policy in Afghanistan. It would be seen to benefit from what then-Vice President Joe Biden had told Afghan President Karzai in 2008 that Pakistan was 50 times more important to Afghanistan than the US However, the Biden administration is obliged to look at the US deal. The February 2020 Taliban and especially the credible reports of the Taliban continuing to maintain links with Al Qaeda, unacceptable levels of violence and stalled dialogue within-Afghanistan. This will put increased pressure on Pakistan to deliver on its promises.
Aware that the new administration will plunge into internal affairs, at least in the short term, Pakistan has devised its strategy to make it focus on the subcontinent. This includes, for the time being, activating the LoC with caliber escalating firepower and producing a dossier accusing India of inciting terrorism in Pakistan. Both are prepared to send the message that the region is a nuclear ignition point that the future administration should not ignore.
However, the reality check for Pakistan is that Indo-US relations are deep and broad-based, something that was underlined by the recent signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). What Pakistan would find uncomfortable is that in 2008, Biden won the support of other Democrats to support the India-US civilian nuclear deal. Moreover, in a 2006 interview as a senator, Biden had stated: ‘My dream is that in 2020, the two closest nations in the world will be India and the United States. If that happens, the world will be safer. ‘ Now he has the opportunity to turn his dream into reality.
A political document released during the presidential campaign noted that the Biden administration would place a high priority on strengthening Indo-US relations by pushing India to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council, continuing cooperation on terrorism, climate change, health and trade, working towards a multiplier increase in bilateral trade. The paper recalls the key role played by Biden, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and as Vice President in the Obama administration, in the systematic deepening of strategic engagement, people-to-people ties, and cooperation with India on global challenges.
Ultimately, Pakistan will have to acknowledge that Pak-SH.BA relations have been and are likely to remain transactional due to a lack of substantive content. The US will remain committed to issues such as Little Nuclear Safety and Terrorism, but Afghanistan aside, there is very little Pakistan has to offer positively to interest the US.
The tricky problem is the fact that Imran Khan had criticized the award given by the then PPP Biden government in 2009 for his role in pressuring President Musharraf to relinquish power and turn Pakistan into a democracy.
Pakistan will also find it difficult to sell an anti-India narrative simply because of its history, whether in relation to “missing persons”, the “kill and throw” policy in Balochistan, the Ahmadinejad day killings and those perceived that they were embroiled in blasphemy, the rampant abduction and forced conversion of little Hindu, Christian and Sikh girls as well as the horrific media persecution under Imran Khan. Its allegations against India over terrorism would be dismissed as similar files were dismissed in 2015.
The Biden presidency is also likely to see the return of traditional and ordinary foreign policy creation with area specialists providing substantial policy contributions, something that is lacking under President Trump. They will be aware of Pakistan’s past duplication of supporting the Taliban while claiming to be a US ally against terrorism. That would not be a good sign for Pakistan.
Therefore, despite his efforts, it is unlikely that Pakistan will be able to succeed in trying to prevent further strengthening of Indo-US relations under Biden. At best, Pakistan could seek to tease the U.S. to restore aid policy that had taken a hit under the Trump presidency and hope the deepened New Delhi-Washington relationship would not further increase inequality with India.
Responsibility: The author of this opinion article is Tilak Devasher, who is a member of the national security advisory board.
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