Expectations from the President-elect

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By Senator Rehman Malik

The Democrats have struck back, led by Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States of America. The world is expecting reasonable changes in the American policies vis-à-vis peace and tranquillity throughout the world. While offering you, President Biden, my heartiest congratulations for election as the new President of the USA during the most difficult times, I pray for your success in steering the great nation of America out of the divide and polarisation created during the electioneering campaign. At the same time, I expect from you like all others, that a new era of mutual respect and respect for the sovereignty of Pakistan would also be ushered in under your Administration and you will not keep the rights of the oppressed Kashmiris out of your agenda. I remember having met you as the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee with the then PM Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and you were of great help and support to her. It was great to meet you during your vice presidency when Pakistan was facing numerous challenges in the hands of terrorists. My meetings with President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Senator John Kerry are always in my memories while I was holding the portfolio of the Interior Minister of Pakistan under the PPP Government. Those were the days when both the USA and Pakistan were fighting the war on terror side by side. During those testing times, not only yourself but all the concerned officials of the Barack Administration had been at the forefront in helping Pakistan to fight the terrorists. Undoubtedly, the contribution of Mr. Hanif Amtar, the then Interior Minister and now Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, and Mr. Robert Mueller the then Director FBI and myself in the war on terror are on record and need not be repeated here. Our mutual common efforts in Afghanistan were quite successful and the PPP government under President Asif Ali Zardari had done its best to fight against the terrorists.

Mr. President Elect, you are fully aware of the sufferings of Pakistan and its people during the war on terror in terms of loss of lives and heavy economic losses.  Besides the damages caused by the terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, it also lost a considerable number of lives as a result of drone attacks by the USA on the mere suspicions, which, of course, did not contribute to reducing the numbers of terrorist attacks on both sides of the Pak-Afghan borders. It, on the contrary, proved counterproductive and the terrorists used these drone attacks as recruiting material and intensification of already prevailed hatred against both the Pakistani government and the USA government. I had always advocated against the drones’ attacks in almost every meeting with USA leadership.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani introducing his team to visiting US Vice President Joe Biden in 2008. Also seen are Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Rehman Malik, Salman Bashir and Hussain Haqqani.

I would expect from you, Mr. Joe Biden, to seriously reconsider to fight this war with the Muslims and not against the Muslim and bring Muslim leadership close to your chest. You need to have a common approach to fight against the common enemies/terrorism, especially in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and generally throughout the world. The situation of this war-ridden area remains the same where President Obama had left.

As you are aware, Mr. President, the efforts and sincerity of Pakistan to bring about peace and end a decades-long internal fight in Afghanistan. Pakistan had, however, always been advocating for the formulation of a common strategy to fight against the Taliban but unfortunately, the US Government and its allies had been putting this suggestion under the carpets and opted to act independently of Pakistan and demand of “do more” sound like no thanks to Pakistan for its sacrifices in this war. It was always in the interest of Pakistan to have a peaceful neighbour across its western borders. Pakistan would continue to play its role to achieve peace in the war-torn country. The decision of the Barack Administration to pull the US Army from Afghanistan was frustrated by the Administration of President Trump, which slowed down the peace process in Afghanistan. Needless to stress the importance of peace in Afghanistan as the peace in Afghanistan impacts the overall world politics and peace. However, to achieve these objectives, external interference to sabotage the peace process has to be frustrated. Historically, the relations between Pakistan and India had always been strained for well-known reasons. However, during the last four years, India, having preferential treatment from the USA Administration at the cost of regional peace, India had established strongholds in Afghanistan and using its soil to export terrorism in Pakistan. The disproportional presence of India in Afghanistan is a threat to the security of Pakistan. India continues crime against humanity in Kashmir unhindered.

Pakistan remained in trouble with the Donald Trump administration. Joe Biden is an old diplomat and has cordial relations with Pakistan, and that is why Pakistan is inherent to him. In 2008, Pakistan awarded Biden the second-highest civilian honour, ‘Hilal-e-Pakistan.’ Joe Biden and Senator Richard Lugar favoured a proposal to bring $ 1.5 billion non-military aid to Pakistan. Lugar was also awarded ‘Hilal-e-Pakistan.’ Asif Ali Zardari, the then President of Pakistan, thanked the two for “consistently supporting Pakistan.”

The recently signed BECA treaty between the USA and India is another step to destabilise regional peace. Obviously, this agreement is aimed at real-time army related information-sharing and further defense cooperation between the two countries is more worrying for South Asia. In the background of Pak-Indo and Sino-India tensions, both Pakistan and China see this agreement as a step to spy on both the countries. I am fully confident that the new US Administration under your presidency would definitely revisit this war encouraging agreement in the interest of this region. It will also help confidence-building measures between Pakistan and the USA and China and the USA.

The people of Pakistan and the leadership of Pakistan Peoples’ Party equally believe that you, Mr. President, are a friend of Pakistan and are fully aware of the geopolitics of the region and recognise the efforts and sacrifices of Pakistan in the war on terror. The people of Pakistan, therefore, expect that the new US Administration would respect its sovereignty. I am confident that your leadership would play its positive role in bringing an umbrella of peace in the region by containing the regional hegemony of India and by maintaining a balance of power in the region.

Through my personal knowledge and interaction with Mr. Joe Biden, I have great hope that his arrival in the White House will enable the US Administration to play a real white role and we hope he will get the “white flag” raised in all the war-ridden zones in the world. The world needs his blessing as the President of the only Superpower to use his resources and expertise for the people of America instead of using these resources to deploy its army in a country which does not have borders with the USA and pose no direct threat to the American nation or to their borders directly and indirectly. I am also hopeful that President Biden would be able to bring the cold war to end between China and the USA and leaders of both the countries will work together to make the world more peaceful and curb the state-sponsored terrorism in countries like India and get the release the Kashmiris from the clutches of RSS & India Army. While congratulating President Biden once again. I also sincerely hope and pray that the previous strategic mistakes shall not be repeated in this region in the greater interest of world peace. I am confident that Pakistan will continue to play its vital role with the USA to restore peace in Afghanistan. I would like to make a few suggestions for the kind consideration of President-Elect Joe Biden to bring about peace in the world and interfaith harmony.

Consider bringing racial and religious harmony, which is a key to bridge the gap between nations and societies. Atrocities both in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Palestinians by Indian and Israeli governments need to end now. I am confident that the USA administration under President Biden will play an important role. The USA may reconsider its balanced approach towards China to end the cold war between the two & work together to bring peace and harmony in South Asia and the world. Efforts need to be result-oriented to make the peace process in Afghanistan a success.  Pakistan has always been sincere and doing its honest efforts in bringing peace in the present complex developing situation due to multiple factors. The USA may have to take some extraordinary diplomatic steps for ensuring a balance of power between these two nuclear states Pakistan and India. This region is sitting on a volcano which can erupt any time and may endanger world peace.  The new US administration must reconsider to integrate the resolution of Kashmir in its priority. Pakistan expects non-discriminatory and balanced treatment with Pakistan in comparison with India.

Best wishes to you and your administration and hope you will bring more tranquillity and peace.

Note: Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of my party.

(The writer is a PPP Senator, former Interior Minister of Pakistan, and Chairman of think tank “Global Eye” and Senate Standing Committee on Interior. He can be reached at: rmalik1212@gmail.com, Twitter @Senrehmanmalik)