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Pragmatic Biden admin to press Pak on terrorism: ex-diplomat

Washington: The Biden administration is likely to be pragmatic in its dealings with Pakistan, pressing Islamabad to act on terrorism related issues and support America’s endeavors for peace in Afghanistan, according to a former top Pakistani diplomat.

There may be a resumption of the strategic dialogue process with Pakistan, but it will not be of the same level or scale as during the Obama administration, former Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, told PTI.

It is unlikely that a Biden administration will resume payments of security assistance or Coalition Support Funds, Haqqani said. These funds are drawn from a presidentially designed and congressionally authorized fund of money to reimburse counterterrorism allies for incremental costs associated with supporting US combat operations.

In 2018, the Trump administration suspended security aid to Pakistan after it failed to rein in terrorist groups. During his first official visit to Pakistan in 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said he hoped to “reset the relationship” with the Imran Khan-led Pakistan government after a period of sharp disagreements between the longtime security allies over Pakistan’s harboring of anti-Afghan militants.

Pakistan’s close ties with China and its lack of democracy and disregard for human rights will not be overlooked, said Haqqani, who currently is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute think-tank in Washington.

Observing that US President-elect Joe Biden and his advisors understand the importance of a stable and peaceful Afghanistan, Haqqani said they may prefer to stretch out the US troops withdrawal, making it truly conditional to end of Taliban violence, and use the extra time to apply more pressure on the Taliban and Pakistan to ensure an agreement that is a peace deal not just a withdrawal deal.

The Trump administration signed a major peace deal with the Taliban in February, laying out a timetable for a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan within 14 months as it seeks an exit from its longest-ever war.

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