Pakistan waits for White House to call: ‘We have other options,’ says Pakistan’s NSA

Pakistan National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf has said that his country has “other options” if US President Joe Biden continues to ignore the country’s leadership

Aug 04, 2021
Pakistan National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf

Pakistan National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf has said that his country has “other options” if US President Joe Biden continues to ignore the country’s leadership. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is among few world leaders, and US major allies Biden hasn’t spoken to Khan since the former took over the US leadership. 

“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?” Moeed told The Financial Times in an interview.

“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,” he said. “If a phone call is a concession, if a security relationship is a concession, Pakistan has options,” he added, refusing to elaborate.

Biden, when serving as vice-president during the Obama presidency, has had the first-hand experience of Pakistan’s duality--by covertly backing the Taliban-- of undermining the very same US mission, it had been a partner in.  

On Monday, the US State Department, however, assured Islamabad that Washington recognized Pakistan’s vital role in restoring peace in Afghanistan and wanted the country to play that role. 

“Pakistan has much to gain and will continue to have a critical role, be well-positioned to have a role in supporting the outcome” in Afghanistan,” Ned Price, the US State Department’s spokesman said. 

We’ll continue to work and to communicate closely with our Pakistani partners on this, he added.

When the Afghan peace process started late in 2018, Pakistan positioned and projected itself as the most important player in the peace process. Later, till the signing of the Doha accord between the US and the Taliban, the country had been seen taking credit for delivering the Taliban to the negotiation table. 

However, with no significant breakthrough in peace talks, that agreement seems just a withdrawal agreement rather than an effort for a negotiated settlement. Islamabad has been accused of not putting enough pressure on the Taliban, which continues to enjoy terror sanctuaries there, and in fact, intensified war on Afghan cities.

Pakistan, for years, has cultivated strong ties with its ‘iron brother’ China, which has invested billions in infrastructure projects as part of its Belt and Road Initiative. Now, amid the US absence in Afghanistan, Pakistan and China are cooperating more closely to fill the void there. 

The Financial Times cited a senior US official as saying, “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.”

Pakistan has been seeking to have a renewed bilateral understanding with the US with a more “geoeconomic” dimension--away from geopolitics which has been the case so far. 

Former US President Donald Trump had cut off $2 billion in funds in security assistance to Pakistan, accusing it of “nothing but lies & deceit”. However, later he invited Khan to the White House when his administration started negotiations with Trump.