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U.S.-Pakistan Relations in the Biden Era: A Conversation with Moeed Yusuf

A discussion with Pakistan's national security advisor and special assistant to the prime minister on national security and strategic policy planning.

Date & Time

Jan. 21, 2021
9:00am – 10:00am ET


After a tense period during the first part of the Trump administration, U.S.-Pakistan relations have improved over the last few years amid the launch of a peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. 

However, with U.S. troops drawing down, the future of U.S. relations with Pakistan—which in Washington have long been viewed through the lens of Afghanistan—is uncertain. This discussion was with Dr. Moeed Yusuf, Pakistan's national security advisor and special assistant to the prime minister on national security and strategic policy planning. He discussed Islamabad's expectations for U.S.-Pakistan relations in the Joe Biden era, and what the situation in Afghanistan may mean for the relationship moving forward. 

Selected Quotes

"The first thing we want to talk about is investment partnerships. This conversation about CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) is not always positive in Washington—how about an American reprocessing zone? How about American companies coming, investing money, reprocessing for export and sending wherever they want. How about doing things economically where there can be Pakistan-US-China co-investment?"

"Could we look at areas of diplomatic cooperation? Afghanistan is an obvious one—we know that. But it would be tragic if the conversation next week begins on Afghanistan and that’s the only conversation we’re having."

"U.S.-China—a lot of people say, well Pakistan is in one camp or the other—let me just tell you very clearly, we are simply not in inter-camp politics. Not because of this reason or that reason—it simply doesn’t suit us. It doesn’t make sense for us to say I’m with one and not the other. Neither, frankly—the Chinese—ever asked us that, or the U.S. for that matter because ultimately, frankly I think, Pakistan is one of the very few countries that can play a helping role for the U.S. and China on areas where they do converge and want to work together.” [16:30-17:18]

"For us the goal is very simple. We are available to facilitate peace in Afghanistan and ultimately, we don’t want any violence or terrorism in our region. But we can’t be in a situation where Pakistan is seen as the potential solution for all problems and when the solution doesn’t come then Pakistan is seen as the reason for all evils. That’s the old conversation that we have to get away from if we want a real relationship that’s a broader relationship where we really can benefit both sides."


Moeed Yusuf

Special Assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister on National Security and Strategic Policy Planning

Hosted By

Indo-Pacific Program

The Indo-Pacific Program promotes policy debate and intellectual discussions on US interests in the Asia-Pacific as well as political, economic, security, and social issues relating to the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region.   Read more

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