ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan is likely to visit United States this year as the relations between the allies in war against terror are once against moving towards ‘stability’ with Pakistan helping the US to find a negotiated settlement of Afghanistan.

“Ice has been broken; we are gradually moving towards the stable relations,” senior Republican and a close aide to US president, Sajid Tarar said during an exclusive discussion with The Nation.

Tarar discussed the highs and lows of relations between the two countries and said that their relations could not stabilise after former al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden was killed by US forces in 2011.

Already-tense relations between the United States and Pakistan took a nosedive when Trump accused the country of deceiving Washington in the global campaign against terror. Trump justified his decision to cut aid to Pakistan, telling Fox News that Pakistan ‘don’t do a damn thing’ for the US and blaming Islamabad for allegedly sheltering former al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

“Previous governments (in Pakistan) could not focus on foreign policy. They had no advocacy plans, no diplomacy. But things have now started improving now,” Tarar said.

The United States administration is looking forward to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit.

“To plan about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s trip is part of my agenda. Khan will come to US before 2020 and would have a wonderful reception. The administration is looking forward to see Khan in the US. Not only the US, the west is expecting positive results as they wanted to see the real change,” he added.

“I’m very pleased that the current administration wants to have trustworthy relations with Pakistan,” he added.

Tarar admitted that it was very hard to convince congressmen and senators about Pakistan but regime change and Imran Khan at the helm of affairs made my case ‘little better’.

Tarar said that Trump had made it clear that the US will pull out from Afghanistan and Syria before 2020. This decision actually provided a window (of opportunity) to Pakistan to bring the Taliban on negotiating table.

“I have been asking Pakistan establishment, I have been advising them to capture this opportunity… am glad they (are) doing it”, he added.

In December, Pakistan helped in dialogue between Taliban and the US in Abu Dhabi. Prime Minister Imran Khan said that Pakistan will be doing everything within its power to further the peace process.

Efforts to bring the Taliban to the peace table have faltered for years as the militant group views the US-backed Afghan state as a ‘puppet government’.

Tarar referred to recent visits of officials from the US administration to Islamabad including the visits of secretary of state Mike Pompeo, Allice Wells and US special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad. He said that the visits had been successful.

He welcomed Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government in Pakistan and said unfortunately the previous PML-N government did not appoint foreign minister and the leadership was also facing corruption charges especially Panama episode that’s why they could not focus on foreign policy.

He said that previous governments had no advocacy plan, diplomatic plans and even Pakistan foreign missions were suspended. He said that Pakistan is still facing diplomatic issues and Pakistan Ambassador to USA could not go beyond 20 kilometres.

Talking about the civil-military relations, he said that the government and military leadership in Pakistan were on the same page. Differences within the country cannot help the country to have good relations with the US, he added.

Sajid Tarar emphasised solid foreign policy, enhancing trade between the two countries and exchange of delegations on different levels in different fields. He said that the 73 years old relationships should be restored between both countries with respect.

Talking about CPEC, he said that no doubt CPEC was a mega project and it could help Pakistan’s economy but the country’s government should strike a balance in relations with China and USA. Pakistan has 73 years old relationship and this not good to take U-turn on the old relationship, he added.

He said that there was divided opinion in USA and some congressmen and senators were thinking that the US supported Russia against China in region because China’s interest had grown so huge but he does not blame China and Pakistan in this regard.