Wednesday Aug 04, 2021
WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Moeed Yusuf says Washington's lack of initiative to interact with Islamabad is beyond his understanding.
“The president of the United States hasn’t spoken to the prime minister of such an important country who the US itself says is make-or-break in some cases, in some ways, in Afghanistan — we struggle to understand the signal, right?” Yusuf told the Financial Times in an interview at Pakistan’s embassy in Washington.
“We’ve been told every time that . . . [the phone call] will happen, it’s technical reasons or whatever. But frankly, people don’t believe it."
Though the US has sought help from Pakistan to halt the Taliban advance while US troops are pulling out of Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden has not spoken over the issue with Prime Minister Imran Khan so far.
Yusuf, who expressed his displeasure over the cold shoulder by Washington, said, “If a phone call is a concession, if a security relationship is a concession, Pakistan has options."
Responding to the NSA's complaint, a senior Biden administration official clarified: “There are still a number of world leaders President Biden has not been able to speak with personally yet. He looks forward to speaking with Prime Minister Khan when the time is right.”
Yusuf is currently in Washington to discuss the Afghan issue as the US troops are in the pullout process from Afghanistan. He is part of a delegation including the head of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency.
“Let me be categorical if the prime minister had not instructed me and the delegation to be here, we won’t have been here,” said Yusuf.
On July 30, Yusuf discussed the ongoing situation in Afghanistan with his US counterpart Jake Sullivan and highlighted the need for an urgent reduction in violence in the country.
After the meeting, he tweeted, “Had a positive follow-up meeting with NSA @JakeSullivan46 today in Washington. Took stock of progress made since our Geneva meeting & discussed bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest."
He also said they agreed to sustain the momentum in the Pak-US bilateral cooperation.
The US official also went to the microblogging website to issue a statement about the meeting. “We discussed the urgent need for a reduction in violence in Afghanistan and a negotiated political settlement to the conflict,” he said.
On July 30, US spokesperson for the Office of International Media Engagement Zed Tarar, based in London, said that no telephone call from the US president to the Pakistani premier in over six months doesn’t mean that US-Pakistan relations are not functioning well.
“The officials of the two administrations are in regular contact with each other and cooperating at various levels, as normal. I don’t want to go into the logistics of the telephone call matter. Only a few days ago, the US gave three million vaccine doses to Pakistan as a goodwill gesture,” Tarar said, during an interaction with the Pakistani media.
The diplomat said that US-Pakistan relations are based on “mutual respect” and the two countries have an “old friendship”. He said that it is actions that speak and that is reflected in the relations between the two countries.