US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said earlier this week in Mumbai that Washington no longer sees itself building a “broad-based relationship” with Pakistan, in a stark contrast to her remarks she made in Islamabad on Friday.
“We [US] don’t see ourselves building our broad relationship with Pakistan and we have no interest in returning to the days of a hyphenated India, Pakistan,” she was quoted as saying on the second of two-day official visit to India ahead of her visit to Islamabad.
“That’s not where we are, that’s not where we are going to be,” she said, adding that her trip to Islamabad was aimed at accomplishing a “specific and narrow purpose”.
However, on Friday Sherman said Washington had “longstanding relationship” with Pakistan, covering a wide range of issues in an attempt to downplay her earlier remarks.
Sherman, the first high-ranking US diplomat to visit Pakistan since President Joe Biden took over the White House in January this year, also indicated that President Biden might soon telephone Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Since the Biden administration took charge, the relationship between the two countries has not been moving forward as observers believe that the US priorities may have changed after its exit from Afghanistan.
There is also a view on the Capitol Hill that Pakistan was responsible for the US defeat in Afghanistan, though Islamabad insists it cannot be made scapegoat for other’s failures.
Sherman, who flew from New Delhi, held talks with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
“Our conversations have been forthright, deep and direct,” the visiting American diplomat told a group of journalists at the US embassy before wrapping up her two-day visit. “We discussed the situation in Afghanistan, and what both the United States and Pakistan and indeed, the entire international community expect from the Taliban,” she added.
During talks with Pakistani authorities, she discussed the importance of holding the Taliban accountable to the commitments they made. “Because it is in all of our interest to have a stable and inclusive Afghanistan that does not serve as a safe harbour for terrorists.”
Official sources said she told Pakistani authorities not to recognise the Taliban government before they fulfil all of the commitments they made to the international community. She made it clear that the US at this point would not recognise a government in Afghanistan, as Secretary Blinken said, legitimacy had to be earned over a period of time and a set of actions.