New Delhi: The US Tuesday said its relationship with India and Pakistan stand on its own, and both nations are its partners with “different points of emphasis”. The comment came as External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar suggested that the Joe Biden administration should rethink the merits of the US-Pakistan relationship.
Washington also stressed that both New Delhi and Islamabad should have “constructive relations” as immediate neighbours.
The remarks came shortly after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Jaishankar as well as Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Jaishankar and Zardari are in Washington DC currently following their trip to New York last week for the UN General Assembly.
“We don’t view our relationship with Pakistan, and on the other hand we don’t view our relationship with India as in relation to one another. These are both partners of ours with different points of emphasis in each, and we look to both as partners because we do have in many cases shared values, we do have in many cases shared interests,” US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters in Washington Tuesday.
He added, “And the relationship we have with India stands on its own; the relationship we have with Pakistan stands on its own. We also want to do everything we can to see to it that these neighbours have relations with one another that are as constructive as possible. And so that’s another point of emphasis.”
On the F-16 maintenance programme and US’ security ties with Pakistan over the last decades, Price said, “It would be difficult for me to attempt to summarise 20 years of US-Pakistani relations – relations between 2001 and 2021. I suppose what I would say broadly, of course, is that Pakistan was not a monolith during that time.”
US and Pakistan Tuesday also jointly commemorated the 75th anniversary of bilateral ties. During the event, Secretary Blinken said that Washington and Islamabad are “deepening” their relationship “across a number of critical areas”.
“In our discussions today (Tuesday), we talked about the importance of managing a responsible relationship with India,” Blinken added.
Prior to that, Blinken and Zardari also held a bilateral meeting at which the US pledged $56.5 million in flood relief and humanitarian assistance for Pakistan, and an additional $10 million food security assistance.
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‘Not in Pakistan’s interest to see instability in Afghanistan’
In another crucial statement that came for the first time since the Taliban made a comeback in Afghanistan, the US said it was “not in Pakistan’s interest to see instability” in Kabul.
“When it comes to security partners of ours, we’re always taking a close look at their actions, at their activities…I believe the secretary said at the time and it remains true now, is that it was not in Pakistan’s interest to see instability and violence in Afghanistan,” said Price.
He also underscored that US and Pakistan “regularly discuss” the current situation in Afghanistan, including ensuring that the Taliban lives up to the commitments.
“One of the many reasons we’re meeting with Pakistan is because of the shared security interests that we do have. It is neither in our interests nor in Pakistan’s interest to see instability, to see violence in Afghanistan,” Price said, adding that “security and shared interests will be high on the agenda” for the US and Pakistan.
Jaishankar advices US on Pakistan
Jaishankar, meanwhile, expressed India’s discontent and anger over Washington’s recent approval of $450 million to Pakistan for their F-16 fighter jet fleet sustainment programme.
“The US’ relationship with Pakistan and the military relationship the US had is not of recent making, it has gone on for many years. It’s a relationship that has neither ended up serving Pakistan well nor serving American interests well,” Jaishankar said at a political event in Washington.
“So it is really for the US today to reflect what are the merits of the relationship, what do they get by keeping it continuing,” he said, pointing to the fact that the US is well aware where Pakistan stations the F-16s.
He added, “We really think countries finally make their choices based on their own interest. If I were to meet an American policy maker I would really make a case saying look, what you are doing is actually not good for you. Reflect on the history and what cost you paid for it.”
Jaishankar Tuesday also met US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and discussed the military-industrial relationship between India and the US.
“Defence and Security cooperation is a key pillar of the contemporary India-US partnership. We noted the steady progress in policy exchange, interoperability, defence trade, service exercises and military-industrial cooperation,” Jaishankar said in a tweet.
Pleasure to meet @SecDef once again.
Defence and Security cooperation is a key pillar of the contemporary India-US partnership. We noted the steady progress in policy exchange, interoperability, defense trade, service exercises and military-industrial cooperation. pic.twitter.com/9AkvTkALGk
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) September 26, 2022
Both sides also discussed the Indo-Pacific and Russia-Ukraine war.
“Secretary Austin and Minister Jaishankar committed to expanding information-sharing and logistics cooperation to drive deeper operational coordination between the U.S. and Indian militaries,” said a readout by the Pentagon press secretary.
It also said, “They also discussed new opportunities for bilateral defence industrial cooperation in support of India’s contributions as a regional security provider, including the launch of a new defence dialogue later this year as the United States and India work more closely together across space, cyber, artificial intelligence, and other technology areas.”
‘India urged to respect norms of inter-state relations’
Responding to the media’s questions and Jaishankar’s remarks, the Pakistan foreign ministry spokesperson said, “Pakistan has a longstanding and broad-based relationship with the US, which has been vital in promoting peace, security and stability in the region. In recent months Pakistan-US relations have become robust and multidimensional, further deepening people-to-people and bilateral ties. Both countries are constructively engaged to maintain regional peace and security.”
The spokesperson added, “India is strongly urged to respect basic norms of inter-state relations and refrain from commenting on the bilateral ties between the US and Pakistan. India also needs serious introspection of its diplomatic conduct.”
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