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Bhutto’s talks with Blinken were difficult after Imran’s anti-US course and toxic Islamist narrative

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Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, has a difficult task ahead of him when he meets US Secretary Blinken in New York this month. He will be negotiating after three years of misrule under Imran Khan. The ex-PM deliberately navigated an anti-US course that was laced by a toxic Islamist narrative.
The Pakistani psyche is often exploited for anti-Americanism, regardless of whether it is politicians, Islamist clergy, or even the military, known as the permanent establishment.
Blinken’s telephone call on Friday May 6th brought a smile and a grin to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Bhutto was incited by him to attend the ministerial meeting in New York on global food security. This has prompted celebrations at Pakistan’s Foreign Office. It has been marginalized by Imran Khan’s anti-US rhetoric, which he claims is a conspiracy theory.
Imran Khan was the first constitutionally removed Prime Minister of Pakistan. He devised his own survival strategy based on anti-Americanism and a toxic Islamist narrative.
Anwar Iqbal (the long-standing Washington correspondent of Dawn English Daily from Karachi), stated that the 45-minute-long Blinken–Bilawal conversation underlines America’s desire to reengage with Pakistan.
But both sides have their compulsions. Pakistan has more than the United States because its economy is teetering on the edge, while the Taliban in Afghanistan refuses to follow its dictates regarding terror containment.
Both the coalition government of Prime Min Shehbaz Sharif (Prime Minister) and the GHQ [General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army]Pakistan cannot survive if it places all its eggs into China, pursues an anti-US policy or is resentful of growing Indo-US relationships and uses that to incite anti-US sentiments.
The US President Joe Biden might have made a phone call to Imran Khan, offering him an opportunity to make a personal trip. However, the call did not come. Blinken had already shut the door on Shah Muhammad Qureshi, Imran’s foreign secretary, since September.
The Imran camp felt a deep sense of pain as Biden seemed to be moving closer to India. He had phoned Prime Minister Narendra Modi shortly after he moved into his new White House home.
They had met more than once – there were also virtual sessions. This humiliation, whether intentional or accidental, has not been replicated in US-Pak relations.
Imran’s trip to Moscow for a chat at the Kremlin was just as Putin’s tanks, planes and aircraft began a blitzkrieg against Ukraine. Radio silence ensued between the US-Pak relationship.

Imran Khan, with the support of the Army and his potential for greatness as Premier, proved to be a disaster. He failed to make any improvements in the economy and plunged the nation into an energy crisis.
He emphasized “ghairat” (self respect) to gain popularity in the face of US attempts at his removal from power. His anti-American rhetoric caused Khaki to shun him.
He was hoping to use the support of China’s “iron brother”, Russia, to get over all his troubles. But that hope remained a dream.
It was clear that Pakistan could not emerge from the woods without courting America and the Generals. The fate of Imran was sealed by the Sharifs, Bilawals and Generals.
Pakistan’s financial crisis requires assistance from many sources. This includes China and Saudi Arabia. The IMF and World Bank are better equipped to help Pakistan get out of its financial problems.
Miftah Ismail, Finance Minister, brought home the truth in Washington with the promise of a USD 6 Billion bailout package. This is not a free lunch. The Shehbaz government must implement an austerity program.
It is not an end in itself, but a temporary price.
Another reason Pakistan needs the US is to be friendly. It’s for a bailout in its problems with the Paris-based UN agency Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Since 2018, Pakistan has tried unsuccessfully to get off the FATF grey list’.
Imran had a public story of Indian influence to justify his FATF woes. The US went to Pakistan and found them guilty of the twin follies. One, ineffective measures to stop money laundering that aids terrorist organizations; and two, not arresting UN-designated terrorists connected to terror attacks against India.
Pakistan might not be able wish away Imran Khan. He may attempt to use the Blinken opening to gain a new bonhomie, but he is a street-smart politician with toxic narrative.
Shehbaz Bilawal has taken the initiative and is now in charge of realpolitik.

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