West News Wire: The US ambassador to Pakistan has reportedly been summoned, according to Pakistan’s foreign minister, after President Joe Biden claimed that Pakistan “may be one of the most dangerous” nations in the world and that it has “nuclear weapons without any cohesiveness.”
The 79-year-old Biden made the remarks on Thursday at a reception for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, where he also discussed the conflict in China, the political situation in the United States, and the war in Ukraine.
President Xi Jinping is a man who understands what he wants but faces a vast, vast array of issues, according to Biden, who was speaking about China and his connection with him. What do we do about that? How do we handle that relative to what’s going on in Russia? And what I think is maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan. Nuclear weapons without any cohesion.”
Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Saturday during a news conference in the southern port city of Karachi he was “surprised” by Biden’s statement. “I believe this is exactly the sort of misunderstanding that is created when there is a lack of engagement,” he added.
“If there is any question as to nuclear safety, then they should be directed to our neighbour India, who very recently accidentally fired a missile into Pakistani territory,” Bhutto-Zardari said, citing the firing of a supersonic missile into Pakistan on March 9.
The 34-year-old asserted that he did not think the decision to summon Ambassador Donald Blome will negatively affect Islamabad’s relations with the Americans.
“We will continue on the positive trajectory of engagements we are having so far,” he said.
The controversy came just more than a week after Pakistan’s military chief, General Qamar Bajwa, made a trip to the US and held high-level meetings with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday condemned Biden’s remarks, saying the US president had reached an “unwarranted conclusion”.
“[H]aving been prime minister, I know we have one of the most secure nuclear command and control systems,” he tweeted.
“Unlike the US which has been involved in wars, across the world, when has Pakistan shown aggression, especially post-nuclearisation?”
Khan said Biden’s statement showed that the current Pakistani government led by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif was a “total failure” on foreign policy and “its claims of ‘reset of relations with US’”.
Sharif’s brother and former prime minister also criticised the US president’s remarks, saying that Pakistan was a “responsible nuclear state”.
He wrote on Twitter that Pakistan is a responsible nuclear power that is completely capable of defending its national interests while adhering to international law and conventions.
Pakistan has progressively turned to its regional partner China for its economic and defense requirements over the past ten years, which has caused a gradual thawing in its relations with Washington.
As Washington accused Islamabad of giving safe shelter to Taliban commanders, ties between the two nuclear-armed countries deteriorated. The charges have been frequently refuted by Pakistan.
After a no-confidence vote was brought by an opposition alliance against Khan’s administration, Khan was forced from office in April. Former cricket player turned politician claims that the US is working with the opposition in a plot.