Bilateral Contact (Pak-US relations) -DAWN

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Pakistan’s relations with the USA in the last few months, for perhaps the first time ever, appeared to be at a standstill. Relations could not be called warm, but they were not hostile either. It seemed as if the Biden administration could not decide what kind of relationship to keep with Pakistan; as if the decision on whether to keep alliances or abandon them was being delayed.

However, with the situation in Afghanistan being as it is, Pakistan cannot be ignored—by any major power of the world. It seems that after months and months of passive-aggressive silence on part of the US, the US is starting to reach out again.

This week, United States Chargé d’ Affaires William Steuer toured the USS Pearl Harbour, a visiting US Navy ship, and observed a joint exercise between the US and Pakistani navies during a visit to Karachi. The visit was to express support for US-Pakistan military cooperation for a combined military force—referring particularly to the Pakistan Navy’s participation in the Combined Maritime Taskforce (CMF). This includes Pakistan’s effort in protecting sea lanes of communication and freedom of navigation in the North Arabian Sea as part of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) and Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151).

This kind of military cooperation is not something majorly impactful for Pakistan. Pakistan assumed the command of multinational combined task force CTF-151 for the ninth time in December 2020. The CTF’s mission is to suppress piracy in the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Aden, and adjoining ocean space under CMF. While it is a good global effort aimed at opening lines of communication through the sea, it is not a crucial platform for diplomacy for Pakistan. However, amidst the silence, these exchanges between the US and Pakistan are a good way to rebuild bilateral contact.