A senior White House official has assured Islamabad that US President Joe Biden understands the threats Pakistan faces and is committed to working with the country to remove those threats.
At a Wednesday afternoon news briefing in Washington, White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communication John Kirby also highlighted US efforts to reshape and scale up multilateral development banks like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
President Biden, he said, will discuss the proposal with G20 leaders in New Delhi this weekend.
“We know that these institutions are some of the most effective tools for mobilising transparent and high-quality investment in developing countries,” Mr Kirby said.
“And that’s why the US has championed the major effort that is currently underway to evolve these institutions so that they’re up for the challenges of tomorrow,” he added.
When reminded that in October last year, President Biden called Pakistan “one of the most dangerous nations in the world” because it had “nuclear weapons without any cohesion,” Mr Kirby explained why the US was so concerned about Pakistan.
“We know that the Pakistani people continue to suffer the threat from terrorism, particularly along that border … with Afghanistan,” he said.
“And we’re going to continue to work with Pakistan — to the degree that they’re comfortable with, of course — to help address those kinds of security threats to their own people and to their own borders because it’s not an insignificant threat,” he said.
Underlining the seriousness of the threats confronting Pakistan, Mr Kirby said: “There is a lot of danger that’s still posed to the Pakistani people, and the President understands that, and he’s committed to continue to work with Pakistan.”
He disagreed with the suggestion that the United States had left behind about $7 billion worth of weapons and equipment in Afghanistan and militant groups were now using those weapons against Pakistan.
“There was no equipment left behind by American forces. There was a small amount of equipment and some aircraft at the airport when we finished our eva-cuation efforts, but they were all rendered unusable as we left,” he said.
“In fact, the only thing that we left that the Taliban could take advantage of was some airport mechanic capabilities: tow trucks and trucks with ladders on them, and some firefighting equipment,” he added.
Mr Kirby explained that the equipment that people were saying the Americans left behind, that was transferred to the Afghan National Security Forces before the US withdrawal.
“As the Taliban advanced on Kabul and other places throughout the country, they (official Afghan forces) abandoned that equipment, not the US,” he added.
Asked if President Biden will also discuss the held Kashmir issue with Indian leaders in New Delhi, Mr Kirby said that America’s Kashmir policy had not changed. “We believe that the tensions there are best resolved by the parties themselves,” he said.
“Human rights are a cornerstone of President Biden’s foreign policy, and he never shies away, nor will he ever shy away from raising concerns about human rights with his counterparts overseas,” he said when asked if President Biden will also discuss the human rights situation in Kashmir with the Indian leader.
“And that was the case when Prime Minister Modi visited Washington not long ago, and it will be the case going forward. I mean, he absolutely will not shy away from mentioning our concerns and raising our concerns about civil and human rights all around the world, including there,” he said.
Asked if he would urge Indian leaders to resume talks with Pakistan, Mr Kirby said, “That’s for Indian leaders to speak to.”
Responding to a question about US efforts to reshape the IMF and the World Bank, Mr Kirby said President Biden asked the US Congress last month for additional funds that would increase World Bank financing by more than $25bn.
“The US was also working with its partners to see if they could pursue similar contributions,” he added.
Mr Kirby said that during his India visit, President Biden would urge G20 leaders as well to provide meaningful debt relief so that low- and middle-income countries can regain their footing after years of stress on their economies and their people.