Islamabad: The new US Ambassador to Pakistan, Donald Blome, has signalled Washing ton’s intention to move on from the “regime change” allegations levelled by former prime minister Imran Khan and engage in a robust two-way communication with the country’s government, political parties and civil society, according to a media report on Monday.
Ambassador Blome, who arrived in Pakistan late last month, has taken over the charge of the US mission at a time of unique challenges and opportunities in bilateral ties.
Though anti-American sentiments run deep in Pakistani society, the feelings got inflamed after former prime minister Khan alleged that he was ousted through a US conspiracy for regime change and ran a mass campaign calling for freedom’ from slaves of foreign powers’.
Khan was ousted through a no-trust vote on April 10. The US repeatedly refuted Khan’s allegations.
This heightened anti-American sentiment has, therefore, become the foremost challenge for Washington in executing its foreign policy goals in Pakistan.
Blome, in an interview with the Dawn newspaper, reiterated the rejection of Imran Khan’s ‘regime change’ allegation and said Washington was very clear about that.
However, I think the best thing we can do going forward is to keep engaging across all levels of Pakistani society, as we have for the past 75 years! he said, adding the engagement wouldn’t be limited just to the government but will extend to political leaders, the business community, civil society, and the youth.
In this two-way communication, he said, he will listen to and understand what’s happening here and convey that understanding to Washington and at the same time share US’ views and positions as clearly and as transparently as possible with audiences here.
Beyond polarisation in the domestic politics on ties with the US, the new government in Islamabad has always been open to revitalising bilateral relations, the newspaper said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari met on the sidelines of a food security conference in New York on May 18, which was the first highest-level face-to-face contact between the two sides in months.
Blome said that a number of follow-ups were being planned on the basis of the agenda set by the two foreign ministers at their meeting.
I will do some of that here, and I expect we will see a variety of US visitors to Pakistan in the coming months to build on it further, he said.
In what appears to be a step towards the resumption of structured bilateral dialogue that has been suspended for a long, the two sides are set to launch the US-Pakistan Health Dialogue in Washington for deepening their cooperation on health issues.
The ambassador recalled the partnership between the two countries against the global COVID-19 pandemic as a good example of cooperation on health.
The US had donated more than 61 million Covid vaccine doses, USD 69 million in financial support, and an additional USD 9 million in assistance to support Pakistan’s fight against the pandemic.
We can build on this work not just in assistance but through growing private sector partnerships in the health field, the envoy added.
Much like the emphasis on investment and trade during the foreign ministers’ meeting, Ambassador Blome too said that he was committed to promoting further development of our bilateral trade and investment .
He further identified health, climate, and education as other areas where cooperation could be expanded.
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