The Centre for Strategic Perspective (CSP) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) organized a web panel discussion on “Future Directions of Pakistan-US Relations Post US Elections 2020” on November 12, 2020. The panel of experts included: Ambassador Najmuddin Shaikh, former foreign secretary of Pakistan; Dr. Nisar Chaudhry, a Pakistani American affiliated with the State Department; Dr. Irfan Qaisrani, Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bahria University, and Mahrukh Khan Research Fellow, CSP-ISSI. Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI, and Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman BoG, ISSI also joined the panel for the discussion.
Director CSP and Editor at ISSI, Mr. Najam Rafique opened the panel discussion. Introducing the subject for discussion, he said that as Joe Biden walks into the White House on January 20, 2021 as the 46th President of the US, America and the world of course would heave a sigh of relief. He will be walking into the white house with a series of daunting challenges both at the domestic as well as the international front. The US is suffering from a raging pandemic, civil unrest, critical economy, and unemployment. At the global level, it is suffering from isolationist and biased policies that have plagued its image globally as a credible power. Moreover, US relations with Pakistan have widely been described both as ‘transactional’ and ‘frenemies’. Over the past two decades, relations between both the capitals have witnessed varying amounts of highs and lows, yet both have managed to continue to engage on issues of mutual interest and importance with Afghanistan being high on the agenda. He questioned whether Biden will revamp US relations with Pakistan or will he prefer to stick with the transactional mode of relationship? He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has extended his congratulations to Biden and Kamala Harris and stressed on working with the US for peace in Afghanistan and the region. He further added that President Biden has served as Obama’s Vice President through both his terms in the White House and he understands the issues involved in US relations with Pakistan. The only question is: Will he choose the Obama era ‘AfPak’ approach or will he choose to follow a different approach in relations with Pakistan? Will anything change for Pakistan with Biden in the White House.