Senator Rehman Malik
These were testing time for all of us who were in exile when Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto introduced me to the then-Senator Joe Biden, who later emerged as vice president of the USA. Benazir Bhutto was struggling for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan besides fighting fake cases initiated in Pakistan against her and her husband. She was hugely respected by the international leaders including the leadership of the USA. Her consultation and advice carried weight in the White House and the US State Department.
When Pakistan People’s Party won the elections of 2008 and formed the government in Pakistan, I, as federal interior minister, came across three important US leaders, and always enjoyed working with them for the sake of world peace. These leaders included vice president Joe Biden, Senator John Kerry (later became Secretary of State under second President Obama administration) and Ms Condoleezza Rice.
During my interaction with all these US leaders, I found them great in many ways. Their contribution towards achieving world peace and improving relations between Pakistan and the USA had a significant impact on future US policies vis-à-vis Pakistan and Afghanistan.
President Joe Biden is a man of few words but with great wisdom. He played a vital role to assist both president Zardari and me to achieve peace in the region during a very hostile environment surrounding Pakistan. In recognition of his service for the cause of Pakistan, president Zardari awarded him the second-highest civil award ‘Hilal-e-Imtiaz’ in 2008. He later visited Pakistan on the invitation of president Zardari to receive it.
Knowing the nature and abilities of President Joe Biden, I do not doubt that he will lower the one going tensions at the international level, especially with China. His administration has already given a signal to re-join Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), provided Iran takes significant steps to abide by the restrictions imposed by JCPOA. President Biden was the US vice president when the agreement was reached at with the US blessings, hence he would be more than happy to restore relations between American and Iran for the sake of world peace. Similarly, I am sure that he would review the ongoing peace talk in Afghanistan to bring lasting peace in the country as well as in the region.
However, having worked along the USA to bring about lasting peace in the region, in particular, and in the world, in general, it is unfortunate that despite our sufferings, the USA always wanted us ‘to do more’.
The second issue on the list of Biden Administration vis-à-vis Pakistan, would be the release of Dr Afridi to travel to the USA. The new US Administration under President Jo Biden, I am afraid, would go to any extent to bring Dr Afridi to America for his assistance to the USA.
The third challenge Pakistan might be going to face is the acquittal and release of the alleged mastermind and his accomplices of kidnapping and beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl. Pakistan government, therefore, needs to take some pragmatic and fast actions to lower the likely pressure in the matter. Otherwise, the US government would be asking for his extradition to the USA to provide justice to the family of the journalist. The government must realise the sensitivity surrounding his extradition to the USA and act fast.
According to my personal experience, President Joe Biden would prefer army-to-army relations and, therefore, I expect that Gen Bajwa will play its role to defuse some opposition and regenerate Army cum civil relationship.
President Joe Biden must not ignore the oppressed Kashmiris who are under strict Army curfew committing a crime against humanity under the direct orders of PM Modi. President Trump had turned blind eye to the atrocities committed by the Indian army and police in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOK). Besides, India continued violating the Line of Control (LoC) through shelling on the houses of Kashmiris which resulted in the killing of hundreds of innocent people along with LoC.
Oppressed Kashmiris, as well as we Pakistanis, appeal to help Kashmiris for implementation of UN resolutions for self-determination enabling them to decide about their fate. President Joe Biden needs to revisit ties with India as India cannot be a trusted friend for the USA.
Similarly, President Joe Biden needs to revise the policies of the USA in Syria, Palestine and Iraq. The tension between Saudi Arabia-UAE and Iran needs to be defused through dialogue and President Joe Biden, I am sure, can play a very vital role in it. He also needs to handle the unpredictable president of North Korea, Mr Kim Jong-un, as one could expect anything from him.
The World powers need to save the world from any abrupt and unexpected nuclear mishap. President Joe Biden must constitute and announce a peace committee on interfaith harmony with members from all religious scholar and diplomate to advocate for peace. President Obama had done a great job on it and he can play his role to bring the nations and religions closer to each other.
Knowing the great nature and earlier interaction with his team, I expect world is landing in the peace zone.