U.S. tells Pakistan to develop “responsible relationship” with India

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

The US has told Pakistan about the importance of having a “responsible relationship” with India, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said even as Washington faces New Delhi’s criticism of its proposal to give Pakistan F-16 spares and services worth $450 million.

“We talked about the importance of managing a responsible relationship with India”, Blinken said in Washington.

After talks with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, he made the remark at an event commemorating 75 years of relations between the two countries that have ranged from Islamabad joining two military pacts, CENTO and SEATO, to betraying Washington by harbouring al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden waged war on the US.

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Bilawal did not react to Blinken’s statement or bring up Kashmir in his speech, which was unusual for him.

On Sunday Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar criticized the US-Pakistan F-16 deal.

He said that “you’re not fooling anybody” by claiming that the deal was for counter-terrorism given the F-16’s capabilities and where it is deployed.

He added, “Forget about us. It’s actually not good for you what you’re doing; reflect on the history, look at the last 20 years”

Asked at his briefing on Monday about the F-16 deal with Pakistan, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price sidestepped the issue only repeating Washington’s line about having delining its relations with the two neighbors.

“We don’t view our relationship with Pakistan, and on the other hand we don’t view our relationship with India as in relation to one another”, he said.

“The relationship we have with India stands on its own; the relationship we have with Pakistan stands on its own”, he added.

He described the two countries as “partners” with “different points of emphasis in each, and we look to both as partners because we do have in many cases shared values, we do have in many cases shared interests”.

He added, “We also want to do everything we can to see to it that these neighbors have relations with one another that are as constructive as can be possible. And so that’s another point of emphasis”.

Afghanistan continues to be a key factor in US-Pakistan relations, he acknowledged..

“We recognize and one of the many reasons we’re meeting with Pakistan is because of the shared security interests that we do have”, he said. “It is neither in our interests nor in Pakistan’s interest to see instability, to see violence in Afghanistan.”

“As the Secretary meets with Foreign Minister Zardari today, I would imagine that security and shared security interests will be high on the agenda, as will humanitarian concerns” he added.

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has been trying to reset Pakistan’s relations with the US after the hostility shown by his predecessor Imran Khan.

Speaking before he met with Blinken for direct talks Bilawal said, “Whenever we’ve – there’s developed a distance, we’ve faltered, and I think it’s a great testament to our diplomatic relations that we’ve not only stood the tests of time, but we are now re-engaged in a broader framework”.

He added, “Pakistan and the United States have shown over the last 75 years that we’ve been great powers – great partners, great partners, and we’ve achieved great things together”.

Economy and disaster are adding urgency to this reset.

Pakistan needed US backing for the $1.1 billion loan approved by the International Monetary Fund to save it from the brink of economic collapse last month and now it needs US help to help deal with the catastrophic floods.

Blinken said, “there is tremendous focus right now on the truly devastating floods that Pakistan has experienced, and we stand in strong solidarity with our friends in Pakistan”.

The US has announced additional aid of $10 million to the $56.1 million allotted earlier.

(By special arrangement with South Asia Monitor where this article appeared Sept. 28, 2022) 

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