KSA-Iran détente boosted Pakistan’s regional importance: Robin Raphel

Statements of former US diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad in favour of Imran Khan don’t reflect the US policies, says Robin

By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
March 24, 2023
In this April 7, 2004 file photo, Robin Raphel, who was coordinator of the State Department's Office of Iraq Reconstruction at the time, discusses the UN's Oil for Food Program on Capitol Hill during an appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. - AP/file

ISLAMABAD: Former CIA analyst and US ambassador Robin Lynn Raphel has maintained that China-brokered detente between Saudi Arabia and Iran has enhanced Pakistan’s regional importance. “The United States has throughout kept Pakistan’s well-being as part of its foreign policy.”


She was talking to a group of media persons at the Presidency on Thursday, where she received the country’s highest civil award Hilal-e-Pakistan from President Arif Alvi in the Pakistan Day investiture ceremony. Raphel is viewed as an expert on Pakistan and had held a number of South Asia-related diplomatic positions and also served as ambassador of the United States for Tunisia.

Talking to newsmen, Raphel said the statements of former US diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad in favour of Imran Khan don’t reflect the US policies as he merely articulated his views like any other member of a think tank in Washington. Khalilzad who is heading a global advisory firm focused on frontier markets namely Gryphon Partners in Washington has suddenly started taking an interest in Pakistan’s politics by issuing statements in support of Imran Khan recently.

Raphel, who had been meeting leaders of both sides of the political divide, was asked if she was trying for reconciliation between different groups amid high political tension, but she didn’t give any definite hint on this count. She also brushed aside a bigger role of the United States in IMF affairs and said that the US is a partner of the Fund and she was hopeful that Pakistan would strike a deal with it soon.

To another question, she termed the situation in Pakistan as confusing but hoped that it would sort out its difficulties and overcome its complexities. Raphel, who used to teach in Tehran and later retired from the US State Department after 30 years of service 13 years ago, was cheerful on being decorated by the Pakistan government.

She was keen to gather reactions about China’s recent moves that have impacted regional politics, especially in the Middle East, and reminded that China is playing smart but the United States is fully capable to guard its global interests.

Raphel, who is returning home today (Friday), termed her visit eventful.