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World News | US-Pakistan political engagement increases as polls loom

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan (file photo/ANI)

Islamabad [Pakistan]March 6 (ANI): Contacts between tourists from the United States and Pakistani political parties have clearly picked up pace as Pakistan approaches general elections, Dawn reported, adding that last month, the Senate-led U.S. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of the congressional delegation visited Pakistan to discuss the “broad-based partnership” between the two countries.

Later, PTI vice-president Fawad Chowdhury met US Ambassador Donald Bloom to brief him on the country’s “deteriorating human rights situation,” Dawn reported, adding that just last week, a vote from the California state legislature A delegation of lawmakers met with PTI chairman Imran Khan.

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Sources said the collaboration was the result of aggressive lobbying by PTI representatives in the US, especially in California, Texas and Illinois (where there are significant Pakistani representation in Houston and Chicago). Since the government stepped down, PTI leaders, especially from Houston, have been hosting US lawmakers as part of their campaign to convince Americans that neither Imran Khan nor his party are against the US, the report said.

The Dawn newspaper reported that in August 2022, PTI had hired a PR firm, Fenton-Arnook, to improve its image in the US, although Sajjad Burki, the US liaison to the PTI chairman, clarified that the firm would not lobby for the party.

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“This is an agreement between a PR firm, not a lobbyist, and a group of US citizens,” Burki told Dawn, adding, “We are not lobbying for PTI Pakistan, and certainly not within the US government.”

Last year, Burki and his colleagues traveled from Houston to Washington to attend and donate generously to a fundraiser hosted by a Pakistani doctor in Maryland for Karachi-born Senator Chris Van Hollen. PTI leaders from Virginia, Maryland and New York are also involved in efforts to rebuild PTI’s image, Dawn reported.

The report further noted that this appeared to be a departure from the status quo prior to late last year, when contacts between the two parties were largely limited to state workers. Now, it appears the government and opposition parties are hosting everyone from congressional delegations to the US ambassador and his staff.

After the overthrow of the PTI government, Washington has become very cautious in its approach to diplomacy with Pakistan. This coincides with Imran Khan’s accusations of a US-backed plot to overthrow him, and as a result, the US response to any questions about the political situation in Pakistan has become rather formulaic.

But even before the former prime minister accused a senior State Department official of taking part in a “regime change operation,” relations between the PTI regime and Washington were markedly chilled. Although he traveled to Washington to meet with Donald Trump, Mr Khan’s phone never rang after Joe Biden took office, Dawn reported.

After his ouster, there appeared to be a thaw. The devastating monsoon floods provided an opportunity for further reconciliation as the US became one of the largest aid nations, providing more than $50 million to support relief efforts.

But that frenzy also seemed to cool off when Pakistan was unable to secure a life-saving deal with the IMF in the last quarter of 2022. Active efforts have been made by officials such as former Army Chief Gen. Kamal Bajwa, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who have met with many US officials to enlist the support of the White House.

A recent resurgence of terrorism in the country and a deepening economic crisis are the latest beginnings that appear to have spurred a flood of contacts between the two capitals, but this time, the meetings were not limited to government workers.

Responding to Dawn inquiries, a State Department spokesperson reiterated its commitment to remain engaged amidst severe economic uncertainty facing Pakistan. “U.S. foreign aid to Pakistan has increased over the past year and the U.S. remains one of the largest providers of civilian aid to Pakistan,” the spokesman told Dawn when asked if Washington was willing to help stabilize Pakistan’s economy. report.

“Since 2002, we have pledged nearly $33.5 billion in civilian and military support. No country has provided more aid to Pakistan than the US,” the official told Dawn.

“The United States has been a major investor in Pakistan for the past 20 years, and our investment has grown by 50 percent in the past year,” the official was quoted as saying by Dawn.

Since December 2022, the State Department has reiterated its commitment to help Pakistan at least eight times.

Observers, however, believe this is the most the United States can officially say without being accused of publicly supporting the current administration.

It is clear that U.S. offers are not limited to helping during the current crisis cycle, and that officials are ostensibly laying the groundwork for an ongoing partnership, even if new parties take power after the upcoming election, the report said.

State Department officials interviewed by Dawn gave the impression that Washington’s aid does not depend on who is in power. The itinerary of the recent U.S. delegation to Pakistan seems to suggest this as well. (Arnie)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)

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