Pakistan said that the country hopes for better relations with the new administration and called on Biden to follow up on the Afghan Peace Process and troop withdrawal. While talking to the news agency, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the new administration should realize that for the first time there is a possibility of peace in Afghanistan.
He said, “they should persevere with what was initiated and not reverse things.” Pakistani Foreign Minister further urged Biden to push forward in the right direction. After almost two decades of war in the country, the direct talks between the Taliban and the incumbent Afghan government are continuing in Doha, Qatar.
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But the progress remains slow with a significant increase in violence in recent days. Meanwhile, Islamabad, which facilitated the US-Afghan and intra-Afghan talks, called on Washington to commit to the signed agreements. Last year February, former President Donald Trump accelerated a timeline for the Afghan troop withdrawal As the Biden administration takes charge of the Federal government, the US has as many as 2,500 soldiers in the war-torn country.
Under the historic agreement signed last year in Doha, all the American troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of April 202. Recently, Pentagon hinted that if the violence in the region does not abate, it could delay the troop withdrawal. On the other hand, while talking to Al-Jazeera, Qureshi also noted, “We are concerned because we feel violence can vitiate the climate.”
Pakistan’s minister accused the spoilers of violence in Afghanistan and hindering the peace process, identifying them as the players benefiting from the “war economy.” Political experts suggest that Biden has inherited a challenging endgame to America’s longest war and its relationship with nuclear-armed Pakistan that escalated to new heights during his last stint as Vice President. Under Obama, Washington continuously blamed Islamabad for supporting the Haqqani network. His successor, Trump, slashed the military assistance over the same allegations.
But later, when Trump decided to take direct negotiations with players in Afghanistan – led by Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad – the relations between the US and Pakistan began to warm up. On Tuesday, during his Senate confirmation hearing, Biden’s Secretary of Defense nominee Lloyd Austin described Islamabad as a key partner in Afghan Peace Process.
Besides, Qureshi also urged the US not to review its partnership with Beijing as an economic or political rival to America. He also said that Pakistan was willing to play a role as mediator between the US and China, a role it played during Richard Nixon’s historic visit to Beijing in 1972.
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