Joe Biden

He’s on a charm offensive. But charm is not US Vice President Joe Biden’s only utility. A keen Pakistan-observer, he helped draft much of his country’s aid policy towards Pakistan. The Kerry-Lugar Act was previously going to be the Biden-Kerry Bill, which Mr Biden had to jettison because of his elevation to the Vice President’s office.American officials in general have always been puzzled by the Pakistani response to the aforementioned legislation. After all, they would reason, the aid bill was drafted keeping in mind the very same reservations that a lot of Pakistanis had about the US. That too, at a time when there was a considerable financial crunch in the US itself. Why should the Pakistanis complain so much? This attitude inspired a measure of belligerence amongst the US diplomatic corps. And was coupled with an increase in the intensity of the whole do-more rigmarole.

Mr Biden’s address to the press seemed to change that. In a conciliatory mood, he seemed to be asking what exactly it was that the Pakistanis themselves wanted. In an almost effortless yet articulate manner, he reiterated the fact the American and Pakistani interests were the same, that Al-Qaeda presented an even greater threat to Pakistan than it did to the US, that he didn’t want Pakistan in the headlines of the global media for all the wrong reasons.Mr Biden has his work cut out for him. It remains to be seen how charm can render beholders oblivious to the contradictions present in US policy at the moment. A growing predisposition to talk to the Taliban on the Afghan side of the border and an insistence in increasing the theatre of operations on this side would not endear him to the military establishment and, in this case alone, the political government either. The Foreign Office has already told him that Pakistan would not be a part of any “great game” in the region. A military operation in North Waziristan, if that is what Mr Biden came for, is highly unlikely – PT