After years of estrangement linked to the virulent anti-Americanism of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, forced to leave power in early April, Islamabad and Washington are formalizing their meeting. A strategic change assumed by his successor, Shehbaz Sharif, and by Pakistani military power, as well as the desire to reduce the country’s dependence on China.
Since then, the United States has multiplied the announcements of aid for Pakistan, which is going through a deep economic crisis and historic floods. The two countries have also agreed on more confidential security clauses, a way for the American authorities to try to protect this heavyweight from South Asia in the Western camp, against the backdrop of the Ukrainian conflict.
Last announcement dated Friday 9 September, the American command for the Middle East, CentCom, specified that it was about to send “An assessment mission to Islamabad to determine what support the US Department of Defense can provide to USAID [l’Agence américaine pour le développement international] under the assistance of the United States. A decision made on Thursday with the powerful chief of staff of the Pakistani army, General Qamar Javed Bajwa. Monsoon rains have engulfed nearly a third of Pakistan, killing more than a thousand since June and destroying or damaging more than 1 million homes.
Don’t offend China
Two days earlier, the Pentagon confirmed the existence of a right-track discussion with Pakistan over the renewal of its American F-16 fighter fleet. Estimated at nearly $ 450 million (€ 448 million), the current deal got the green light from the US State Department. The White House and the companies concerned have already assured that this deal will not result in the supply of“no new skills, weapons or ammunition”. This sale will strengthen, the Pentagon says, “US foreign policy and national security goals”.
A meticulously chosen communication and undoubtedly intended not to offend Beijing, Pakistan’s main strategic ally that would have nearly 400 JF-17 fighters, manufactured with the help of the Chinese, but judged by experts to be less reliable than the American F-16. However, according to a Western diplomat stationed in Islamabad, “The fact that the new Pakistani foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, made his first official visit to the United States on May 18 is a real sign”.
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