May 28, 2023

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Pakistan reacts after Joe Biden said that the South Asian state is one of the most dangerous

Pakistan summoned the US ambassador for an explanation on Saturday after President Joe Biden described the South Asian country as “one of the most dangerous nations in the world” and questioned its nuclear weapons safety protocols.

Biden made the seemingly offhand remark while speaking about US foreign policy at a private Democratic Party fundraiser in California on Thursday night, but the White House later released a transcript of his comments, which sparked outrage in Pakistan , according to The Guardian.

Washington’s relations with Pakistan have soured since last year, when the US ended a two-decade war in Afghanistan.

Pakistan provided crucial logistical access, but US officials believe Islamabad’s powerful military and intelligence apparatus also helped the Taliban, which returned to power as foreign troops withdrew.

Biden was speaking about his frequent interactions with Chinese leader Xi Jinping when he said: “Did anyone think that we would be in a situation where China is trying to figure out its role vis-à-vis Russia and vis-à-vis India and vis-à-vis of Pakistan?

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“This is a guy who understands what he wants, but he has a huge, huge number of problems. How do we deal with this? How do we manage that in relation to what’s going on in Russia?”

“And what I think is perhaps one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan. Nuclear weapons without any cohesion.”

Hours after the transcript of his address was posted, Pakistan summoned US Ambassador Donald Blome to the foreign office in Islamabad.

“I discussed it with the prime minister and summoned the United States ambassador … for an official approach,” Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said during a news conference in Karachi.

“I am surprised by President Biden’s remarks. I think that’s exactly the kind of misunderstanding that’s created when there’s a lack of engagement.”

Later, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif tweeted that Pakistan was a “responsible nuclear state”.

“We are proud that our nuclear assets have the best safeguards… We take these safety measures very seriously. Let no one be in doubt,” he said.

The foreign secretary also appeared to give Washington some diplomatic leeway away from Biden’s remarks.

“It was not an official function, it was not an address to the nation or an address to parliament,” he said.

“We should give them an opportunity to explain this position. I don’t think this should have a negative impact on relations between Pakistan and the United States,” he further stated

The US fears Pakistan’s close partnership with China as Beijing pushes ahead with a $54 billion (£48 billion) “economic corridor” that will build infrastructure and give Beijing an outlet to the Indian Ocean.

Washington has repeatedly said that China will reap most of the benefits, leaving Pakistan with unsustainable debt.

Warnings by the US – which sees China as its pre-eminent global competitor – have been repeatedly rejected by Pakistan.

Pakistan this week abstained from a UN General Assembly vote to condemn Russia’s annexation of parts of Ukraine, despite major US diplomatic efforts to seek clearer condemnation from Moscow.

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