At a private event for the Democratic Party last week, Joe Biden made a rambling, careless comment calling into question Pakistan’s ability to keep its nuclear weapons safe.
In a private home in California Biden began his remarks by rambling about Chinese dictator, Xi Jinping, “I’ve spent more time with Xi Jinping than any person in – any head of state in Ameri – in the world,” Biden said before turning his focus to Pakistan.
“This is a guy [Xi] who understands what he wants but has an enormous, enormous array of problems. How do we handle that? How do we handle that relative to what’s going on in Russia,” Biden continued before adding, “And What I think is maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world: Pakistan. Nuclear weapons without any cohesion.”
Biden never clarified or explained his Pakistan remark saying only, “So, folks, there’s a lot going on. A lot going on.”
The Pakistan comment not only felt out of place but has also caused a diplomatic mess that the State Department has been racing to clean up before the fallout worsens with the ostensible U.S. ally.
Following the release of the transcript of Biden’s remarks, Pakistan’s Prime Minister’s office published an official press release calling the comment “factually incorrect and misleading” and stating that “unnecessary comments” should not be made.
Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry also issued a press release stating, “Pakistan’s disappointment and concern was conveyed to the US envoy on the unwarranted remarks, which were not based on ground reality or facts.”
Principal Deputy Spokesperson for the State Department, Vendal Patel, told reporters on Tuesday, “the United States is confident of Pakistan’s commitment and its ability to secure nuclear assets. The U.S. has always viewed a secure and prosperous Pakistan as critical to U.S. interests. And more broadly, the U.S. values our longstanding cooperation with Pakistan.”
The State Department’s attempt to stop the fallout came too late with many of Pakistan’s top politicians having already made comments regarding what they viewed as an insult from Biden. Former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, brother of the current prime minister, posted on Twitter, “Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state that is perfectly capable of safeguarding its national interest whilst respecting international law and practices.”
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Meanwhile, Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, wrote on Twitter, “Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state and we are proud that our nuclear assets have the best safeguards as per IAEA requirements. We take these safety measures with the utmost seriousness. Let no one have any doubts.”
The Pakistan remark is not Biden’s first blunder to leave the State Department or the White House walking back his comments. In September, he told Scott Pelley on CBS “60 minutes” that the U.S. would defend Taiwan if China were to attack the island which contradicts Washington’s longstanding “One China” policy which does not directly support Taiwan’s political independence from China.
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