By reiterating the same narrative that the US never mentioned or used the word “bases” in its strategic talk and dialogue with Pakistan as the former made its withdrawal to the Pakistani journalists, he clears all the confusing messages steering in the media about US supposed pressure on Pakistan.
Revisiting the earlier reports about US asking for bases in Pakistan
Earlier news was flowing in the US and Pakistani media that the Biden administration has sought Pakistan’s military bases as a monitoring platform to ensure its foothold and clout in future developments in Afghanistan in the wake of imminent Taliban takeover. At recent congressional hearings, it was apparent the US officials did talk about using Pakistan’s airspace to oversee Afghanistan and procuring bases in the region, but it did not specifically mention where.
Mr. Moeed Yusuf underlined that Pakistan’s foreign policy and national security interests remain grounded in ensuring balanced and cordial relations with both the US and China. He claimed that even if the ties between China and the US turn sour, the balancing act will be Pakistan’s priority and it will ensure that relations with both states “remain seamless”.
The US media further expounded that major impediments in rebuilding and refining Pak-US ties are Afghanistan and Pakistan’s close economic and security-centered partnership with China. For years, Pakistan and the US relationship has undergone a rollercoaster with ups and downs categorized by series of blame games and trust deficits.
During the presidency of Donald Trump, the ties took a renewed trajectory when the “do more” mantra lulled as the US administration started to disassociate Pakistan from the Afghan prism. It is because Pakistan’s continued support to the US was imperative to ensure the latter a dignified withdrawal and bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table. More than this, Pakistan saw the change of the US stance as a positive-sum game where it can leverage its national and regional policy goals to maximize its interest.
Reports also elucidate that Washington wanted Islamabad to exercise its influence to prevent the Taliban from making large swaths in the country as an attempt to take over Kabul. Moreover, the US policy ambit desires that Pakistan should join the US-led alliance to contain Chinese influence in the region.
Pakistan does not desire a “zero-sum game”
Commenting on these developments, Mr. Moeed Yusuf asserts that Pakistan believes that prudence lies in creating a win-win situation and not a “zero-sum game either with China or the US”. Pakistan has learned hard lessons from its past foreign policy decisions where it placed all eggs in one basket and compromised the opportunities in the midst.
Thus, Dr. Yusuf’s comment underscores Pakistan’s desire to retain and establish good relations with both the US and China. He claims that Pakistan’s geo-strategic location enables it to play a pivotal role in synergizing the available opportunities in South Asia and bridging the gap between the US and China’s relations.
He explicated that the Afghan issue came in the talks with the US officials where they pointed out that had Pakistan cooperated with them in the past, they could have easily defeated the Taliban.
However, Mr. Yusuf claimed that we urged them to focus on the future that is bright and ripe with opportunities. Also, the US must continue to stay engaged in Afghanistan to ensure a legitimate government in Kabul that represents all stakeholders and preserves the democratic code of code and rule of law. A stable Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan which has experienced the brunt of anarchy in the former at the cost of its national security and international credibility.
In this respect, Pakistan shares the US aspiration for peace and stability in Afghanistan and has a similar interest in reaching a political settlement in Afghanistan. Where they differ is in methodology and for this reason, the decision to remain engaged is crucial. Additionally, Mr. Yusuf acknowledged that the reason why the Kabul government and Pakistan cannot meet ends on decisions is because of the spread of “offensive statements” about the latter from the Kabul side.