Top leadership ‘satisfied’ at US ties progress

ISLAMABAD   –   Pakistan’s top civil and military leadership Monday showed satisfaction that the ties with the United States were back on track.

In a meeting here, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa agreed that Pakistan’s efforts had changed Washington’s policy as it had earlier been accusing Islamabad of deception.

PM Khan and General Bajwa both visited the US together last week and held important meetings leading to ‘resetting’ of the Pak-US ties.

“During the [PM-COAS] meeting, matters pertaining to security situation and important affairs came under discussion,” said an official statement.

The two leaders also exchanged views on internal and regional security situation, officials said.

Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor and Inter-Services Intelligence Director General Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed were present in the meeting.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also called on President Dr Arif Alvi yesterday and briefed him on his recent visit to the US.

“The President commended the Prime Minister on the successful completion of his visit and termed it a huge success in terms of effectively conveying Pakistan’s narrative on issues of regional and international importance,” said an official statement.

He said such high-level visits are of paramount significance and hoped that this successful visit will further strengthen the relations between the two countries.

Officials said top three leaders of the country vowed to confront terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. “They are satisfied that the Pak-US ties are back on track,” one official said.

After the successful US visit by PM Khan and General Bajwa, US President Donald Trump accepted an invitation to visit Pakistan. When Prime Minister Imran Khan met President Trump at the White House on July 22, it was the first summit-level engagement between Pakistan and the US since 2015.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal later said Pakistan was ready to welcome President Trump. He tweeted: “@POTUS (President Trump) accepts @ImranKhanPTI (PM Khan) invite to visit Pakistan. We welcome u (you) Mr President. #pakusnewdawn.”

PM Khan and President Trump held comprehensive discussions with a focus on building a broad-based and enduring partnership between Pakistan and the United States and strengthening cooperation between the two countries to bring peace, stability and economic prosperity in South Asia.

Prime Minister Khan had briefed President Trump about his vision of socio-economic development of Pakistan. He said that “peaceful neighborhood” was a priority of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

He added that peace and stability in the region would allow Pakistan to harness its rich human resource potential to generate growth and spur regional connectivity.

President Trump appreciated Prime Minister Khan’s vision for peace in South Asia. The Prime Minister said Pakistan was convinced that normalization of relations with India would be mutually beneficial for the two countries.

Since Imran Khan won the general election about a year ago, he has called for “mutually beneficial” ties with America, while remaining an outspoken critic of US anti-terror tactics such as drone strikes.

The Trump administration is trying to negotiate its military withdrawal from Afghanistan with the Taliban, a militant group it has long accused Pakistan of supporting.

PM Khan has previously said that US assistance was “minuscule” compared with what the US-led “war on terror” had cost Pakistan.

Since Donald Trump took office in 2017, his administration has adopted a hard line against Pakistan, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants and misleading the US over the issue – charges Islamabad denies. Trump began 2018 by promising on Twitter to end “foolish” aid to the country.

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” he said in a New Year tweet.

PM Khan hit back saying: “Record needs to be put straight on Mr Trump’s tirade against Pakistan: 1. No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pak decided to participate in US War on Terror. 2. Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war & over $123 bn was lost to economy. US “aid” was a miniscule $20 billion.”

However, a couple of months before that Twitter clash, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had already raised the prospect of a reset with the new government of PM Khan.


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