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SOURCE: THE NEWS PK

In August 2020, US presidential candidate, Joe Biden’s foreign policy adviser, Antony Blinken, had said if elected, the Biden administration would raise the issue of Kashmir with India and also convey its concerns on a recent Indian law that discriminates against Muslims. On August 2 this year, in a dialogue on American foreign policy at the Hudson Institute, Washington, Blinken also said the Trump administration’s Iran strategy had “backfired in a massive way”.

Blinken, a former deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of state, was quoted as saying: “We obviously have challenges now and real concerns, for example, about some of the actions the Indian government has taken, particularly in cracking down on freedom of movement and freedom of speech in Kashmir, and about some of the laws on citizenship.

This would be the Biden administration’s approach while discussing Kashmir and other issues with India because “we have seen evidence that it works”. He said: “While tearing up the US-Iran nuclear agreement in May 2018, the Trump administration claimed that it would negotiate a better deal and the abrogation would make the Middle East a safer place, but it failed to achieve both objectives. In fact, the opposite has happened. The action isolated the US from the partners who helped negotiate the agreement. And much more importantly, Iran is restarting dangerous components of its nuclear programme, putting itself in a position where it has a greater capacity to develop a nuclear weapon now than it did when it signed the agreement”. However, on August 15 this year, the Hindustan Times had claimed that Joe Biden had offered fullthroated support to India against China. And now, as the Biden- Trump battle has millions of anxious viewers in Pakistan, various key Indian media houses like the “Zee News” have viewed that Pakistan would be hoping Democrat Joe Biden assumes the president’s office. Pakistan has been in trouble

during Trump administration, according to this Indian media outlet. A very recent “Zee News” report states: “In 2008, Pakistan had conferred Biden with the second highest civilian honour ‘Hilal-e-Pakistan’. Joe Biden and Senator Richard Lugar were behind the proposal to bring $1.5 billion non-military aid to Pakistan. Lugar too was awarded the ‘Hilal-e-Pakistan’. Former president Asif Ali Zardari had thanked the two for consistently supporting Pakistan. As Biden inches closer to become the new president of the US, many Indians believe that another term for Trump would have been better for India. The Indian television has remarked: It may be recalled that Biden has expressed disapproval of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris’ words on the abrogation of Article 370 is also something which India cannot forget. “We have to remind the Kashmiris that they are not alone in the world. We are keeping a track on the situation. There is a need to intervene if the situation demands,” she had said. Experts, however, maintain that Biden may prefer not to raise these issues after taking charge as president. An American think-tank South Asian Voices said the overall nature of the Pak-US relationship has been transactional – both states have enjoyed good relations when their interests converged. Despite the absence of common strategic objectives and longterm mutual interests, many layers in Pak-US bilateral relations were not mutually exclusive. In the past two decades specifically, bilateral ties have witnessed various highs and lows, but both countries have continued to engage closely even when diverging on certain issues. The South Asian Voices has more to say: “After facing President Trump’s excoriation for alleged “lies and deceit”, Pakistan finds close convergence of interest with the US on the Afghan peace process that has enabled both states to work closely to bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiation table and eventually participate in the intra-Afghan dialogue. In order to sustain this partnership and preserve mutually beneficial relations after the US elections, it would be important to maintain and expand the Doha spirit. Pakistan has rightly earned acknowledgement for its positive role in bringing the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table – a necessary prerequisite to provide US forces a graceful exit from Afghanistan”. Viewpoint of Michael Kugelman, deputy director for the South Asia Programme at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC: As quoted by a section of Pakistani press, Michael Kugelman has viewed: “Since Trump and Biden both have, generally speaking, similar views on Pakistan and the region, I don’t think we should overstate the election’s impact in South Asia. This suggests that Pakistan and the region stand to gain from a Biden presidency that would seek to regain leadership on the global stage, and to improve ties with important countries – including Iran and even potentially, to a modest extent, China. However, Biden’s stance on Afghanistan is more measured. The inevitable withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan means that the US-Pakistan relationship will soon need to identify a new basis”. On October 26, 2020, the BBC News had stated: “The Pakistani-American community is nearly a million strong, while Indian Americans are said to total around 4.5 million. Both tend to lean Democratic. According to a 2016 survey, 88% of Pakistani- Americans and 77% of Indian-Americans voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton last election. Only 5% of the former and 16% of the latter voted for Trump, the survey found. It’s unclear which way Pakistani- Americans are leaning, but over 70 percent Indian- Americans plan to vote for Biden, according to the 2020 Indian-American Attitudes Survey”.