Biden Did Not Call Imran, Now Brookings Report Says President Should Call Pak’s Sharif to Reset Ties
Bruce Riedel, one the writers of the Brookings report, was an adviser to the former Bill Clinton and Barack Obama administrations and is also close to the current Democratic set-up in Washington.
The other writer, Madiha Afzal, is a fellow at the Centre for Middle East policy.
“The end of American involvement in Afghanistan and the change in leadership in Pakistan presents the US with an opportunity to reset its long-troubled relationship with the world’s fifth most populous country,” the writers argued in the report.
“President Biden should initiate a high-level dialog with new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who will be in power for up to a year before the next election is held.”
The authors noted that because US policy was focused on fighting wars in Afghanistan, “our primary partners in Pakistan were the intelligence service and the military. Less attention was devoted to the civilian government.”
“Now Washington can engage with Islamabad without prioritizing Afghanistan issues at the expense of our broader interests in regional stability with India and China, encouraging development in South Asia, and supporting the strengthening of the elected democratic forces in Pakistan,” they argued.
“America also has an interest in balancing somewhat the influence of China, Pakistan’s closest ally, on decision-making in Islamabad.”
The authors noted that the Biden administration, and in particular the White House, had given Pakistan a relative cold shoulder to date, “irked…ostensibly with then-Prime Minister Imran Khan publicly criticizing the US”.
They noted that Biden did not call Khan while he was Prime Minister, although Brookings argued he should.