By Madiha Afzal
The U.S.-Pakistan relationship has weathered several bumps in the road over the past two years, including, most prominently, the fallout from the Afghanistan withdrawal and the Taliban takeover. The Biden administration has now settled on a bureaucratic division of labor in its policy toward Pakistan: a lack of engagement from the White House; robust, well-defined engagement from the State Department; and a continuation of long-standing military and defense ties. The new equilibrium is different from the past: President Joe Biden is the only U.S. president in recent memory not to have engaged with a Pakistani prime minister (neither Imran Khan nor his successor, Shehbaz Sharif). The bilateral relationship is also notably no longer centered solely around America’s interests in Afghanistan, as it was prior to August 2021: there is an effort by both sides to broaden its base.
Unfortunately, the overall relationship is weak at best. Here are the factors that have shaped the relationship over the last two years:
The Afghanistan factor
At the beginning of the Biden administration, Pakistan recognized the need to redefine the bilateral relationship, until then focused on Afghanistan, as the U.S. withdrawal…