It has been two months since Joe Biden took over as US President but there has been no outreach towards Pakistan. On the other hand, Biden has already sent Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin to Indian to discuss bilateral ties, which will act as a bulwark against China’s assertiveness.
The visit comes days after top American and Chinese diplomats held their first in-person meeting amid a tense environment to reset ties worsened by Trump administration. Both sides traded barbs at each other and make blunt remarks on wide range of contentious issues. A week ago, the US was joined by India, Japan, and Australia to work together for a free and open Indo-Pacific in the face of maritime challenges from Chinese hegemony. Biden has received praise at home for reviving ties with allies and countering China.
India drew closer to the US last year after deadly border clashes with China. Washington helped New Delhi in leasing surveillance drones and supplying cold-weather gear for Indian troops. The US defence secretary said he never considered that India and China were on the verge of war, adding that US will continue to work with like-minded countries against any aggression. US-India ties are flourishing even under Biden’s administration and should raise alarm bells for Pakistani authorities.
The US has emerged as one of India’s biggest arms sellers. The two sides are also discussing India’s plan to buy armed drones and a large order for over 150 combat jets to narrow the gap with China. The US has discouraged India from purchasing the S400 air defence system from Russia, warning it may trigger sanction but given India the option to stay out of the deal.
Ahead of Lloyd’s visit, the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations urged him to raise human rights and democracy issues with Indian leaders. But the cordial environment in which the meetings were held suggests that it did not top the agenda. What is obvious that the US is attempting to strengthen ties with India to push it away from being reliant on China and Russia.
In a policy shift, Pakistan’s army chief Gen Bajwa and urged India “bury the past” and move forward. He said US had a role to play in ending regional conflicts. As Pakistan has sided with its ally China, it may be wishful thinking that Biden administration would facilitate peace in the region. Pakistan need to expedite lobbying efforts as it also needs to maintain ties with both China and US in changing global order.