Pakistan a ‘strategic partner’; partnership ‘wrong term’ for China’s ties with Pakistan: US official

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US Pakistan logo on Twitter account of U.S. Embassy in Islamabad

Pakistan is a “strategic partner” of the United States while ‘partnerships’ may be a “wrong term” to describe China’s relationship with Pakistan, according to State Department Spokesperson Ned Price.

At the same time, he affirmed, “Pakistan is a strategic partner of the United States. We have an important relationship with the government in Islamabad, and it’s a relationship that we value across a number of fronts.”

He said at his briefing on Wednesday, “We’ve made the point all along that it is not a requirement for any country around the world to choose between the United States and China. It is our intention to provide choices to countries when it comes to what the relationship with the United States looks like.”

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At the same time, he affirmed, “Pakistan is a strategic partner of the United States. We have an important relationship with the government in Islamabad, and it’s a relationship that we value across a number of fronts.”

He made the remarks in answer to a question from a reporter if Pakistan was feeling “abandoned by the US” in opting to work closely with China.

Contrasting U.S. relationships with that of the U.S., he said, “We think partnership with the United States conveys a series of advantages that countries typically would not find when it comes to the sorts of partnerships that – ‘partnerships’ may be the wrong term – the sorts of relationships that the PRC (Peoples Republic of China) has sought to have around the world .”

US officials have warned that China’s program of purported assistance have hidden price tags that could engulf the recipients in unrepayable debts. Under the crushing load of Chinese debts under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor of China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Islamabad asked Beijing last year to restructure $30 billion in loans.

The reporter also asked for a comment on India’s Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi’s reported statement in parliament that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government’s “strategic mistakes” brought China and Pakistan together.

Price said, “I certainly would not – would not endorse those remarks.”

“I will leave it to the Pakistanis and the PRC to speak to their relationship,” he said.

Between 2002 and 2020, Pakistan received a total of $34.25 billion in aid, of which 8.28 billion was security assistance and $14.57 billion was “Coalition Support Funds” for assisting the US and its allies in their operations in Afghanistan, according to the Federation of American Scientists. Pakistan does not have to repay most of the assistance from the US in contrast to China’s aid, which in fact are mostly all loans.

In 2018, the administration of former President Donald Trump and Congress cut a total of $800 billion in aid to Pakistan. The Pentagon cited a lack of cooperation with the U..S South Asia strategy, which was interpreted as a failure to act against terrorists attacking U.S. and allied forces.

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