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US President's statement meant not to hurt Pak-US ties: US Senator

A US Senator said the statement of President Biden was not intended to hurt the relations with Pakistan

By Web Desk
October 19, 2022
US Democrat Senator Chris Van Hollen. Twitter/ChrisVanHollen
US Democrat Senator Chris Van Hollen. Twitter/ChrisVanHollen

The policy of the United States towards  Pakistan has not changed, a US senator said on Tuesday. He also clarified the remarks of US President Joe Biden about Pakistan's nuclear capability, saying his statement was not intended to impact the bilateral ties between the two countries. 

"I don't know what made President Biden say [what he said about Pakistan], but I don't believe this was intended to hurt US-Pakistan relations in any way." Democrat Senator Chris Van Hollen told the media during an event in Maryland.

Clarifying the remarks of the US President, the US Senator said that his [Biden's] statement was spontaneous and that there was no shift in US policy towards Pakistan.

Chris Van Hollen said, "The United States does have confidence in Pakistan over the security of its nuclear arsenal."

He said the explanation from the US State Department also conveys the same impression that President Biden did not give the statement deliberately.

The Senator said that the US seeks stable relations with Pakistan. He added that the flash flood and the coordinated response efforts helped increase bilateral relations.

The United States is constantly in touch with Pakistani officials, looking for ways to further assist the country in flood relief, he added.

He also repudiated the claims by PTI Chief Imran Khan regarding the alleged US role in regime change in Pakistan. He said the US is not involved in Pakistani politics in terms of deciding who should be in the government. This is the business of the people of Pakistan to decide who should rule them, he said.

"However, I will say the former prime minister of Pakistan [Imran Khan] is mistaken" as the US did not play any role in the regime change in the country, he added.

Pakistan most dangerous country: Biden

Remarks from the US senator come days after the US President alleged that Pakistan's nuclear programme lacks cohesion.

Biden referred to Pakistan as "one of the most dangerous countries" and alleged that Islamabad's nuclear programme lacks cohesion.

"Did anybody think we would be in a situation where China is trying to figure out its role relative to Russia and relative to India and relative to Pakistan?" President Biden said, addressing the democratic congressional campaign committee reception on Saturday [October 15].

Referring to Chinese President Jinping, Biden said that he "understands what he wants but has an enormous array of problems."

"How do we handle that? How do we handle that relative to what’s going on in Russia? And what I think is maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan. Nuclear weapons without any cohesion," the US president said, adding that despite a lot going on, the US has a hunk of opportunities to change the dynamic in the second quarter of the 21st century.

Pakistani reaction

The Pakistani authorities held consultations before issuing a detailed official response. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari strongly protested against Biden's controversial remarks.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) handed a "strong" demarche to US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome over President Biden's "misleading" remarks regarding Pakistan's nuclear programme.

Acting Foreign Secretary Jauhar Saleem called in the US ambassador to deliver the demarche, the ministry said. Pakistan’s disappointment and concern were conveyed to the US envoy on the unwarranted remarks, it said.

The US president's remarks are not grounded in reality and facts, the ministry said.

The secretary made it clear that Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state and its impeccable stewardship of the nuclear programme and adherence to global standards and international best practices was well acknowledged, including by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"It was essential to maintain the positive trajectory of Pakistan-US relations and the close cooperation between the two sides to build regional and global peace," the ministry added.