Why President Biden did not call PM Imran even after many months?

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 04:11 PM, 16 Sep, 2021
Why President Biden did not call PM Imran even after many months?
File photos.

That US President Biden has not called Prime Minister Imran Khan even after months in office is an issue which is repeated again and again at various forums – without any justification.

Even in an interview by a CNN correspondent on Wednesday, the cricketer-turned-politician was asked this question.  

When asked to confirm that Biden had not called him since coming into office, the premier replied, “He is a busy man”.  

Questioned if it’s not a punishment to Pakistan - a major non-NATO ally – the prime minister said President Biden should be asked why he is too busy to call.  

“I would imagine he’s very busy, but our relationship with the US is not just dependent on a phone call, it needs to be a multidimensional relationship,” said Prime Minister Khan.  

Although the call from the US president would have sent a good message to the people of Pakistan, the absence of it has not created any problem.  

Relations between states are dictated by their interests, not principles.  

The US relations with Pakistan have been through many ups and downs in the past, depending upon the thinking of the man in the White House.    

When President Clinton paid a few hours visit to Pakistan during the initial days of Gen Musharraf, his attitude was very cold because the general had come to power after ousting Mian Nawaz Sharif, with whom the US leader had good relations.  

To establish that the US president did not like a military man in power, Clinton during his brief stay in Islamabad did not like to be photographed with Gen Musharraf. He made a televised address to people of Pakistan to air his views. 

The US president’s attitude caused tremendous embarrassment for Gen Musharraf. 

The reason: absence of democracy from Pakistan.   

However, another US president – George W. Bush – had quite a different attitude towards same Gen Musharraf. 

During his visit to Islamabad, at a ceremony at Aiwan-i-Sadr, the US dignitary said: “Mr. President, thank you. Laura (the president’s wife) and I are really glad to be here, and we want to thank you and Ms. Musharraf for your hospitality. We do have a good friendship. It was displayed last night when I got off Air Force One and your daughter was there to greet us. And that was a really kind gesture, and I thank you very much for that. I particularly thank your daughter for coming out”. 

In the same address. He said: “We've had a -- we're going to have a full day. We've just had a lengthy one-on-one discussion about common interests. Then we invited members of our government in to continue our discussion. I'll talk a little bit about the earthquake relief -- I mean, the -- yes, the earthquake relief in a minute, but I am looking forward to the meeting with a cross-section of Pakistani society, which will take place later on today, and I'm particularly interested in cricket. I understand you've lined up a little cricket exhibition for us, and maybe I'll take the bat, I don't know. We'll see. (Laughter.) I'm kind of getting old these days”. 

The complete speech was quite lengthy and reflective of frankness between the two leaders.  

President Bush even invited Gen Musharraf to Camp David, which was a rare honour, especially a military man. 

Had the democratic system been the yardstick for relations between the two countries, there was no justification for President Bush to use the kind of words that he used for Gen Musharraf.  

The US ties with Gen Ziaul Haq (another military leader who had come to power after overthrowing Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) were also very strong. At the time Pakistan’s role was very important for US because of Soviet invasion of Afghanistan

The US wanted to prevent Soviet access to warm waters, a target that could not be achieved with an active Pakistan role. 

Because of the significance of Pakistan’s role at the time the US had turned a blind eye even to the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme. It was during that era that a senior official declared that Pakistan had acquired nuclear capability.  Although it was a development intolerable for the West, the US hushed up the matter. 

The then Pak-US cooperation led to the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and subsequently disintegrations of the only challenger to the United States at the global level. 

This great development changed the US interests and its policy towards Pakistan. 

It imposed sanctions which created many difficulties for Pakistan. 

US ties with Pakistan were also strong during the incumbency of President Trump.  

It was during that period that Prime Minister Imran visited President Trump at the White House and said on his return that he was happy like he had won another World Cup.  

This should establish that the US doesn’t maintain ties with Pakistan or adopts a lukewarm attitude on the basis of any principle. Interests decide the direction of ties at a particular time. 

And this approach is adopted by all countries- all the times. 

Just recall the time when India was a strong ally of the Soviet Union.  

However, after the disintegration of Soviet Union India joined the US camp, an unbelievable turn at the time. 

At present ties between India and US are very warm because US wants to keep it on its side to be able deal with rival China. 

China and India have tense relations because of territorial disputes. Still, China has strong commercial ties with India. 

All this means that call or no call interests decide the nature of ties between countries.