Since the time the Biden administration has taken over, Pakistan has been putting its efforts to reset its relations with the US through a transformational phase, but all its efforts have been met with a lukewarm response.
The Imran Khan-led dispensation had hoped to opt for a transactional relationship with the new US administration, knowing that President Joe Biden knew Pakistan, well as Vice President earlier, and had a better knowledge of the country, which Islamabad felt, would pave the way for a better understanding.
Pakistan’s efforts were focused on resetting ties with the US on the basis of security and economic cooperation. However, government officials now admit that the effort has been met with a cold shoulder so far.
The level of interest expressed by Pakistan can be well gauged by the fact that Prime Minister Imran Khan had formed an apex committee to evolve a broad-based agenda for engagement with the Biden administration, with special focus on seeking economic cooperation and not only relying on security cooperation.
Enhanced trade ties, energy and climate change, and investment were among the important areas for Pakistan to seek US cooperation.
Pakistani officials maintained that their ambition was to evolve the relationship with the US “through a bilateral lens” and not through the paradigm of China or India.
“We want to evolve relationship with the US purely through bilateral lens. We don’t want to be perceived through the Chinese lens or Indian lens,” said a senior Pakistani official.
“However, the trouble is that the new US administration has not given us a positive signal so far,” he admitted.
The new US President speaks to heads of various key governments, especially allies, as a normal ritual. Biden, who has been in the White House for over two months now, has not yet spoken to Imran Khan over the phone, and has ignored Pakistan’s request for a direct contact.
On the other hand, he has already spoken to the Afghan President and the Indian Prime Minister.
While the US’s lukewarm response has come as a surprise to many in Pakistan, Islamabad is hopeful that Pakistan’s pivotal role in the Afghan peace process and ongoing negotiations will compel Biden to speak to Imran Khan in the coming days.