US President Joe Biden’s off-the-cuff remarks at a Democratic Party convention that Pakistan ‘may be’ one of the most dangerous nations in the world and that its nuclear programme is incoherent will be needing a lot of explanations from his administration in days to come. Americans are well aware of Pakistan’s nuclear strategy, and have time and again expressed their confidence in its secure command and control system. Thus, playing to the gallery by any incumbent in the White House will fall short of merit, and rightly be dubbed as either a mischief or vendetta against Pakistan.
Biden’s remarks hint at the anxiety his administration is confronted with these days. A resurgent Russia, and a cool and calm China are testing Washington’s nerves, and the war in Ukraine has literally questioned US-NATO utility in the heart of Europe. Moreover, Biden must have reasons to be disturbed over Islamabad’s abstention as the UN General Assembly condemned Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territories. Last but not least, Pakistan’s growing nexus with Beijing and Moscow sends shivers down the spine for the lone superpower that is losing ground by the day. That’s why Biden brought before the party convention how puzzling it is to deal with the presidents of Russia and China, who are rallying both India and Pakistan in the region.
Washington must be reminded that its defence ties with Islamabad are one of the most scrutinised, and Pakistan does not have skeletons in the cupboard. Biden’s utterance in the backdrop of renewed cooperation between the two states in intelligence sharing and $450 million potential sale of F16 aircraft raises eyebrows. Who knows better than the US that Pakistan is a responsible nuclear power and is perfectly capable of safeguarding its arsenal! The diatribe was surely meant for domestic consumption, in a bizarre attempt to pressurise Pakistan to change its balanced course of action in foreign policy. The demarche served on the US envoy and the anger among the nation must act as an eye opener. Biden, with his versatile experience, should not have come up with that jibe.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2022.