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America and the world at large took sigh of relief after the swearing in ceremony of 46th US President Joe-Biden last week in Washington. The US seemed back to normal that had been at loggerheads, within and without, under president Trump’s watch making both of them excessively vulnerable to conflict and strife. The outgoing president Trump’s departure to Florida, after inciting insurrection at the Capitol Hill, was very reassuring to the American people that he had finally given up only after embracing the destiny of two impeachments. The criminal investigation next month in the Senate may finally darken his political future, but surely brighten up the future of US democracy with domino impact. How ironic as he stood the sole recipient of the dishonor? His self-righteousness propensity also made him to skip the oath taking ceremony thus breaking the hundreds years of extraordinary tradition of peaceful transition of power of the US democracy. He lost the opportunity of damage control. He indeed plumbed the depths of arrogance not witnessed before in the history of the country.
President Joe Biden was thorough in his inaugural speech touching the right chord when he urged the fellow Americans to break with the terrible legacies of his predecessor, and forge unity to overcome the multiple challenges sprouting from Covid-19, racial discrimination, climate change, and unemployment with firm resolve of putting the economy back on track. The president was speaking his heart out when he confidently announced that US democracy had been ‘tested and prevailed upon’. Those who unleashed insurrection early this month to overturn the elections results were humbled with disgrace that had been pouring in from all directions to the proponents of domestic terrorism. Their misadventure to ruin the US democracy beyond redemption had backfired as democracy had emerged stronger than before. The president’s full throttle speech explicitly implied that the people of this country would never ever let the repetition of such an ugly situation by the thugs and goons.
The inaugural ceremony of the US incumbent president of US reminds Pakistanis the momentous and heartiest times when the transition of power took place in Pakistan from Pakistan People’s Party government to Pakistan Muslim League in 2013 at Awan-e-Sadr, Islamabad. The scenario was fully charged with constitution and the constitutionalism that was swaying right across as the transfer of power was taking place. The optics were strikingly awesome as both the parties’ top leadership was in attendance in the oath taking ceremony. In the US swearing in ceremony the outgoing US president Trump’s absences was conspicuous thus transfer of power in Pakistan comparatively merited qualitative status. The ambiance at Awan-e- Sadr, Islamabad, was overwhelmed with democratic spirit as the leadership of the both parties was present with the sense of democratic advancement reflective of their democratic commitment. The PPP was satisfied as it was going to hand over the wanton to another democratically elected winning party to carry on the democratic evolution process in the country with gusto.
The gesture of the then president Asif Zardari’s daughter Asifa Bhutto was heart melting when she welcomed the PML-N leadership at the Awan-e-Sadr, by presenting beautiful bouquet representing the victory of democracy with the yearning to spare no effort in promoting and solidifying the constitutional rule and parliamentary politics in the country. It was worth struggling as the optics would amount to paying rich tributes to Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed who paid the ultimate price for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan by standing up the forces of authoritarianism and extremism those had brought mayhem and destruction in the country. The restoration of the democracy then largely owed to the Mohtarma who fought the enemies of democracy with remarkable, foresight, courage and wisdom.
The inaugural speech of US President Joe Biden indeed was diametrically opposite to the narrative of former president Trump who was notorious for being supremacist, divisive, arrogant. He would not shy away to demonise people in the media and in people public life without compunction. His compulsive fascist tendencies resulted in losing the US title as an exemplar of democracy. Tributes to the American people who got rid of him. Joe Bidden would surely live up to his words by undoing his legacy that had made the world less safe in general and the American society in particular. People around the world also welcomed the change because his juggernaut had sharply divided the world to emasculate the cause of peace, security and harmony. The only exception was of Afghanistan where he threw his full weight to get out of the morass in his bid to brighten up his electoral prospects. He failed in both.
In foreign relations, his acrimony against China, wrapped in trade war and Covid-19 origin, essentially defied the acceptable norms of diplomacy seemingly on purpose to electrify the anti-China sentiments for the consumption of home constituency considering it as a vote winning strategy. He was also close to start the conflagration of war in the Middle East due to his anti-Iran policies meant to please Israel and Israeli lobby. His imposition of regressive and crippling economic sanctions against Iran was the continuation of his hostility that led him to revoke much acclaimed Iran nuclear deal. His excessive pro-Israel tilt diminished the prospects of two -state solution of the Palestinian long standing issue. US NATO allies were equally frustrated because of his bullying urging them to pay more in return of providing ‘security umbrella’ against Russian possible aggression. He was indeed a compulsive trouble maker to the collective chagrin of the world. US president, being the leader of the only Super Power, might have assumed the role of a trouble shooter matching the status. But, he proved himself as big disappointment. Hopefully, the incumbent US president will not disappoint the world. Such expectations are legitimately attached to him if judged from the ideology of his party and his own thinking being the distinguished stalwart of the party. President Trump’s comfort level with the war mongering leaders of the world was preposterously high that included Israeli prime minister, Indian prime minister, North Korean leader to name the few.
The US-China relations, during the incumbent US administration, may not improve on the fast track basis in the near future but their downside is likely to stop. Biden administration, like Obama administration, would rely on diplomatic engagement rather than stirring cascade of diplomatic rumblings characteristic of Trump administration. Strategic partnership between US and India may remain on track because as US foreign policy contemplates to strengthen India — militarily, economically, politically and diplomatically - as a counterweight to China. US-Russia relations, during Biden administration, may remain focused in the perspective of NATO allies in general and in human rights violation in particular in the context of incarceration of the opposition leader last week. Reduction in nuclear arsenals between Russia and America may get new impetus. The hidden diplomacy between Trump and Putin may be now thing of the past as the new US administration is likely to build up its relations with Russia relatively in full glare of public and media. The FBI intelligence reports with regard to Russian shenanigans to denigrate Joe Biden before the US presidential elections to favor his opponent may take some time to fade away from the memory of the new US administration.
It was very welcomed decision of President Joe Biden who signed the executive order of lifting visa restrictions on the Muslim majority countries as one of his top priorities. It may certainly improve the image of the country in the Muslim world. It was irrationally and erratically imposed by the former president reflective of his mindset filled with outrageous alacrities of Islamophobia.
Pakistan may continue to remain relevant to the US because this country could help the superpower to get out of the Afghanistan war that is both unpopular and unwinnable. According to New York Times Afghan war has cost $5.9 trillion tax payers money and more than two thousands causalities of troops and still counting. The new secretary of defense’s assertion during the Senate hearing outlined his priority to build military to military relations, seemingly excluding the civilian part of the government to the periphery. It may not bode well with the government and should take up the matter through diplomatic channels that such unguarded statements may not create enabling environment to build relations based on mutual respect and mutual interest.
Pakistan has other compelling reasons not to be on the wrong side because this country needs the friendly relations with the US more than the superpower. To correct the perspective, it may be mentioned that the US is major importer of Pakistan textile products constituting major chunk of our foreign exchange earnings. Pakistan also desperately needs financial support of the international financial organizations, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, IMF, where US has almost the final say notwithstanding the hanging sword of (FATF) on Pakistan. Pakistan’ foreign policy may have to play out a ‘balancing act’ with utmost care while keeping the diplomatic subtleties in the forefront. Pakistan foreign policy may not at all opt for building relations with US or China at the expense of the any of the two big powers. We are sure Pakistan Foreign Office knows very well of the indispensability of the ‘balancing act’. The other influencer may also see eye- to- eye with the Foreign Office.