- Spokesperson Ned Price says Washington wants to do everything it can so that India, Pakistan have relations with one another
The US has said that it does not view its relationship with Pakistan and India in relation to one another, adding that "these are both partners of ours with different points of emphasis in each".
In a press briefing before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari's meeting in Washington on Monday, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price was asked about Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar’s comments calling on the US to review its relationship with Pakistan and criticising the fact that Washington authorised funds for Pakistan's F-16 programme.
Price said the US looks to both as partners "because we do have in many cases shared values, we do have in many cases shared interests".
"And the relationship we have with India stands on its own; the relationship we have with Pakistan stands on its own.
"We also want to do everything we can to see to it that these neighbors have relations with one another that are as constructive as can be possible. And so that’s another point of emphasis."
Indian FM's comments
Earlier in September, Pentagon said Joe Biden's administration had approved the potential sale of sustainment and related equipment for the upgrade of Pakistan’s F-16 fighter aircraft fleet, in a deal valued at up to $450 million.
Commenting on this at an event organized by the Indian American community in Washington on Sunday, Jaishankar said: "It's a relationship that has neither ended up serving Pakistan well nor serving the American interests.
"It's really for the United States today to reflect on the merits of this relationship and what they get by it," Hindustan Times quoted him as saying.
"For someone to say I am doing this because it is all counter-terrorism content and so when you are talking of an aircraft like a capability of an F-16 where everybody knows, you know where they are deployed and their use. You are not fooling anybody by saying these things," Jaishankar added.
Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought three wars, mainly over the Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir.
In 2019, they engaged in an aerial battle during which India said it had shot down a Pakistani F-16 after one of its own jets was brought down. Pakistan denies that one of its F-16s was downed.
People-to-people contact between the countries, formed by a split of British India in 1947, virtually ended after the 2019 clashes.
Responding to unwarranted remarks by the Indian minister for external affairs, the spokesperson of Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Pakistan has longstanding and broad-based relationship with the United States, which has been vital in promoting peace, security and stability in the region.
“In recent months Pakistan-US relations have become robust and multidimensional, further deepening people-to-people and bilateral ties,” he said in a statement. “Both countries are constructively engaged to maintain regional peace and security.”
India is strongly urged to respect basic norms of inter-state relations and refrain from commenting on the bilateral ties between the US and Pakistan. India also needs serious introspection of its diplomatic conduct.
Blinken meets Bilawal
Blinken said he had discussed with his Pakistani counterpart what he called managing a responsible relationship with neighbouring India.
"In our discussions today, we talked about the importance of managing a responsible relationship with India."
Blinken also called on Pakistan to seek debt relief from its close partner China as floods devastate the South Asian country.
He promised strong US support for Pakistan as it dries out from the floods, which have submerged one-third of the country, an area the size of the United Kingdom.
“We send a simple message. We are here for Pakistan, just as we were during past natural disasters, looking ahead to rebuild,” Blinken said after talks in Washington with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
“I also urged our colleagues to engage China on some of the important issues of debt relief and restructuring so that Pakistan can more quickly recover from the floods,” Blinken said.
Lingering distrust over Afghanistan
The US relationship with Pakistan has deteriorated over the course of the two-decade war in Afghanistan, Blinken said, adding: “We have had our differences – that’s no secret."
But he said Pakistan and the United States “have a shared stake in Afghanistan’s future,” including greater freedoms for women and girls, whose rights have again been heavily curtailed by the Taliban.
Additional $10m for flood-hit Pakistan
Blinken also announced another $10 million to Islamabad for its food security programme.
He expressed sincere condolences and solidarity with Pakistan over the loss of precious lives and monumental economic losses.
The secretary also reaffirmed the US's commitment to continue cooperating with Pakistan in meeting the challenges of rehabilitation and reconstruction.