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Biden makes first contact with Pakistan PM in years


ISLAMABAD: US President Joe Biden wrote a letter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday assuring him that his administration will fully back his government in addressing critical global and regional challenges.
This was the first direct communication between a US president and Pakistani leader since former Republican president Donald Trump. After taking over from Trump, Biden did not bother to call the then prime minister, Imran Khan, currently incarcerated.Similarly, he did not speak to Shehbaz when he succeeded Imran in April 2022.
The letter holds significance as Islamabad’s ties with the White House remained strained following the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan and subsequent allegations levelled by Imran Khan blaming Washington for conspiring, in collaboration with Pakistan’s military and the then opposition, to remove him from office through a vote of no-confidence.
The letter, moreover, underscores a potential recalibration of bilateral ties, with the US president describing the partnership between the people of the two countries as “crucial for global and local security”.
“The enduring partnership between our nations remains critical to ensuring the security of our people — and people around the world— and the US will continue to stand with Pakistan to tackle the most pressing global and regional challenges of our time,” Biden wrote to Sharif, adding that public health protection, economic growth and education for all are shared visions that will continue to be promoted together.
The US president also highlighted various areas where the two countries have been working together while promising to strengthen their joint efforts. He specifically mentioned the US-Pakistan Green Alliance Framework, saying his administration would continue to work with Pakistan to improve the environment.
Biden also spoke of sustainable agricultural development, water management and recovery from the devastating effects of the 2022 floods in Pakistan.
He also expressed dedication to protecting human rights and promoting development together with Islamabad amid previous US concerns over freedom of speech and expression in the wake of a period of social media disruptions in Pakistan.
“The strong partnership established between the two nations will be strengthened,” he said in the letter.

Earlier this month, US lawmakers had urged Biden and secretary of state Antony Blinken to refrain from recognising Pakistan’s new government until allegations of election rigging were thoroughly investigated. The lawmakers, all Democrats, had expressed concerns in their joint letter about pre- and post-poll rigging in Pakistan’s parliamentary elections.

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