Winds of great change in stance and diplomacy has started in the Biden led new administration already as major changes in the administration and new cabinet joins office. World noted 2 major policy changes with respect to Pakistan and China as the ink of Joe’s signature was yet to dry.
USA again takes the help of strange bedfellows and soft pedals Pakistan, the hotbed of terrorism of the world. President Joe Biden’s pick to head the Pentagon believes that US relationships with the Pakistani military would provide openings for both the country to cooperate on key issues, as he acknowledges that Islamabad “will play an important role in any political settlement in Afghanistan”. This was the major stumbling point in the Afghanistan Peace process. With the Inauguration of President Elect Joe Biden as the 46th American president, the US Congress is in overdrive with hearings to confirm the president’s new team. During these hearings, Biden’s national security team has promised a turnabout from the Trump administration’s approach on the world stage.
General (retd) Lloyd Austin, the defence secretary-designate, told the Senate Armed Forces Committee on Tuesday that Pakistan was ‘an essential partner’ in the Afghan peace process. He promised to deter regional actors from spoiling the peace of the region, if he was confirmed as the secretary of defence. “Pakistan is an essential partner in any peace process in Afghanistan,” Austin said while responding to a question regarding his policy as the top defence official of the country. “Pakistan will play an important role in any political settlement in Afghanistan,” he added. Trump administration had stopped giving aid to the Pakistan and it seems this will get revived by the new team.
Austin, who retired from the military four years ago after serving for more than 40 years, told the committee that the Biden administration believes that “continuing to build relationships with Pakistan’s military will provide openings for the US and Pakistan to cooperate on key issues”. Responding to a question, Austin said he wanted a negotiated settlement in the Afghanistan, a peace process, which Trump initiated. “I certainly would like to see this conflict end with a negotiated settlement. And I think we are going to make every effort to ensure that happens,” the General told the committee.
“We need to see an agreement reached in accordance with what the president-elect wants to see. I think we want to see in Afghanistan that doesn’t present a threat to America. So, focusing on some counterterrorism issues, I think in the future would be helpful,” he said. “If confirmed, I will encourage a regional approach that garners support from neighbours like Pakistan, while also deterring regional actors, from serving as spoilers to the Afghanistan peace process,” the former Centcom chief said. India was always a supporter of peace settlement and has given enormous amount of social aid for the welfare of the people of this war torn nation.
“I understand Pakistan has taken constructive steps to meet US requests in support of the Afghanistan peace process. Pakistan has also taken steps against anti-Indian groups, such as Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Muhammed,” he said, adding however that “although this progress is incomplete”. General you are right. The steps taken are very cosmetic in nature just to avoid the FATF sanctions. Austin noted that “many factors in addition to the security assistance suspension may impact Pakistan’s cooperation, including Afghanistan negotiations and the dangerous escalation following the Pulwama attack (by Pakistan)”. He added that he would focus on shared interests between Washington and Islamabad “which include training future Pakistan military leaders through the use of International Military Education and Training funds”. Indirectly the General has argued for greater military hardware aid and moral support for rogue Pakistan. However, he stressed that he “will press Pakistan” to prevent its territory from being used by the militants or other violent organisations” and said he would continue to build relationships with Pakistani military to “provide openings for the US and Pakistan to cooperate on the key issues”.
At the confirmation hearings in the relevant Senate committee on the Capitol, neither Austin, nor Biden’s other nominees for cabinet posts, including the secretary of state-designate Antony Blinken encountered substantial opposition.
In the Congress Biden’s other nominees promised to keep partisan politics out of intelligence agencies, restore an emphasis on cooperating with international allies, and push for a stronger American leadership role. During the recent ‘2 plus 2 dialogue’, Mike Esper helped India with ice jackets to fight the Chinese war at Ladakh, which were meant for the US reserve soldiers.
Blinken pledged to repair the damage done to the State Department and America’s image abroad over the past four years while continuing a tougher approach to China. “American leadership still matters,” he told his confirmation hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Biden’s pick to lead the intelligence community, Avril Haines, promised to “speak truth to power” and keep politics out of intelligence agencies to ensure their work is trusted. “When it comes to intelligence, there is simply no place for politics – ever,” she told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Soon after Joe Biden took the oath and became the new US president on January 20, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced sanctions on 28 anti-China politicians in the US for “their selfish political interests, and prejudice and hatred against China, as well as showing no regard for the interests of the Chinese and American people.” The list includes and led by Michael R. Pompeo, Peter K. Navarro, Robert C. O’Brien, David R. Stilwell, Matthew Pottinger, Alex M. Azar II, Keith J. Krach, and Kelly D. K. Craft of the Trump administration, as well as John R. Bolton and Stephen K. Bannon. These individuals and their immediate family members are prohibited from entering the mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao of China. They, and any companies or institutions associated with them, are also restricted from doing business with China.
The Hong Kong and Macao office said in the Thursday release that during his years as the secretary of state, Pompeo “successfully” earned fame for his brazen cheating, lying and utter interference with other countries’ affairs. Global Times reported, “His lunatic political farces showed the international community just how the US hegemony oppresses and attacks China’s development, exposing their hypocrisy, arrogance, selfishness and their maliciousness in boasting “democracy, freedom and human rights.”
As officials in national security, O’Brien was infamous for attacking China by calling the country the threat of century while Pottinger has been sticking to the ideological battle by shaping anti-China frontline. The following US diplomats and envoys including David Stilwell, Alex Azar, Keith Krach and Kelly Craft have interacted and even paid visit to Taiwan, which severely challenged the bottom-line of China. Trump’s advisors including Bannon and Bolton have been infamous for helping shaping the aggressive anti-China policies that aimed to fully contain China on economy, trade, high-tech and so on. One of his final nail was to blacklist major Chinese technology giants and stopped their listing on the US bourses thus reducing their valuations.
Biden administration ought to have risen above partisan politics and responded strongly to China’s unprecedented action in slapping sanctions on 28 Trump administration officials, including Pompeo, O’Brien & Alex Azar. China is asking Biden to rid bilateral ties of “evil forces.”
US has yet to respond back on the ban. This will be a weak kneed reaction against Mainland China. On the other hand the fact about Afghanistan is that no peace is possible unless Taliban is controlled. Pakistan has a role to play in this. In the interest of US troop’s withdrawal stability in Afghanistan is essential. Engagement and lure of financial assistance and some military support will be the carrot. If this is done at the cost of India then we need to worry and look at our priorities.
We have to wait and watch.