US President Biden will soon talk to PM Imran Khan: Wendy Sherman

Biden administration is well aware of Pakistan’s concerns and reservations on US bill, says top diplomat

Mariana Baabar | Mumtaz Alvi
October 09, 2021

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R Sherman. Photo: file
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R Sherman. Photo: file

ISLAMABAD: US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R Sherman Friday said she believed President Joe Biden will soon talk to Prime Minister Imran Khan, The News reported.

During an interaction with a group of editors, the top US diplomat said that the Biden administration was well aware of Pakistan’s concerns over a bill introduced in the US Senate.

“We have an idea that every country wants to have a telephone conversation with US President. I am sure that this conversation will be held with Imran Khan soon.”

Responding to a question, Sherman said, “I am sure that this contact will take place soon, so I don’t think it should mean anything else.”

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“I don’t think there is a need for more speculation about not talking on the telephone so far."

Replying to a question about a bill presented in September by 22 Republican senators targeting Pakistan, Sherman said, “We get hundreds of bills; thousands of people are behind them but we are well aware of Pakistan’s concerns and are closely looking at the situation”.

Pakistan's message to US

Pakistan sent a crystal clear message to the US that it was committed to forging a broad-based, long-term and sustainable relationship, anchored in economic cooperation, regional connectivity, and peace in the region.

Afghanistan was only one issue amongst several in their bilateral relations and the key was in holding a regular and structured dialogue process between them, which in turn was vital for promoting common interests and advancing shared regional objectives.

The United States emphasized the importance of the long-standing relationship between Pakistan and the US and agreed to continue close communication and coordination on the situation in Afghanistan, security and counter-terrorism, trade and investment, climate change, economic cooperation, and regional connectivity.

These views were brought up by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and US Deputy Secretary of State Ms. Wendy R. Sherman during delegation level talks at the Foreign Office a day earlier. The topics of discussion included Afghanistan, bilateral relations and regional peace and stability.

Cold reception

In a telling state of the tense bilateral relations, Sherman, on her arrival at the Foreign Office, received a cold reception as she stepped out of her car, where instead of her counterpart, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood, she was received by a mid-level diplomat, DG Americas.

Diplomatic sources told The News that the government was shocked at some of the statements Sherman had made in India on Thursday before flying to Islamabad. Her statements were considered to be "very critical and very undiplomatic".

Sherman, while speaking in Mumbai, had made it very clear that the United States was not interested in a broad relationship with Pakistan, beyond Afghanistan.

“My visit to Pakistan is for a very specific narrow purpose and the United States does not see itself building a broad relationship with Pakistan and we have no interest in returning to days of hyphenated (India and Pakistan). That is not where we are. That is not where we’re going to be”.

“My visit to Pakistan in the context of Afghanistan is in a bid to make sure that Pakistan has the capabilities to ensure everybody’s security, including India’s and the US”, she had said as she left India.