The Biden administration has conveyed its first message to Pakistan, assuring continued assistance for the “common cause of peace in Afghanistan.” The message was conveyed by the acting US Charge d’ Affairs to Pakistan who called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa today.
According to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release, “the visiting dignitary appreciated Pakistan’s contributions for conflict prevention in the region and for its relentless support provided in the Afghan peace process.”
The COAS hoped that Pakistan-US bilateral relations will be further strengthened under the new administration.
For Pakistan this message is a sigh of relief as Afghan peace process is now at an advanced stage. Pakistan has expressed the need for clarity on the future direction of the peace process under the Biden administration. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday urged the new US administration to “preserve Afghan peace deal and not to reverse things.” In an interview with Al Jazeera, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that President Joe Biden “ should realise there is an opportunity in Afghanistan.”
The US Charge d’ Affairs meeting is also a signal that the US is now serious about strengthening military ties with Pakistan. The Secretary of Defence General Lloyd Austin, during his hearing of his nomination in the US senate, said that “continuing to build relationships with Pakistan’s military will provide openings for the United States and Pakistan to cooperate on key issues.” He further acknowledged that “Pakistan is an essential partner in any peace process in Afghanistan,” and that “Pakistan will play an important role in any political settlement in Afghanistan.”
The newly nominated defence secretary said he will restore International Military Education and Training (IMET) funds for Pakistan and that “we also need to work with Pakistan to defeat al-Qaeda and the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) and enhance regional stability.”