NEW DELHI: Pakistan’s Prime Minister-designate Imran Khan on Wednesday sneaked in a couple of jibes in a conversation he had with the US’s acting envoy to the country.
One, Khan stressed the word “balanced” in describing his hopes for future US-Pakistan ties, reported Pakistani media. And two, when speaking about Afghanistan, he said it is “pleasant to see voices rising from the US also in favour of a political solution for the Afghan war”, the country’s media also reported.
Over the years, Khan has been extremely critical of what he believed – or believes – is an “imbalance” in the US-Pakistan relationship. He’s said that the US has always had an upper hand in the relationship and has often taken Pakistan for granted despite what Khan believes is the latter’s big contribution in the US ‘war on terror’.
In addition, Khan has savagely criticised the US for not looking for a “political” solution to the situation in Afghanistan and instead focussing on a military one.
On Wednesday, when US acting envoy to Pakistan John F. Hoover called on Khan at his Islamabad residence to congratulate him on his party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) victory in the June 25 national elections, Khan managed to address both of his peeves.
He told the acting US envoy that he will “engage with the US to make this (Pakistan-US) relationship more balanced and trustworthy” and acknowledged there’s a been a trust deficit between the two allies lately, reported news outlets Dawn and The News International.
Khan acknowledged to Hoover that Pakistan and the US have been through several ups and downs in their relationship, and he described the reason for that as a trust deficit between the two countries.
“Our government will engage with the US to make this relationship more balanced and trustworthy…Tehreek-e-Insaf is adamant to establish good relations with US based on mutual trust and respect. We view Pakistan-US relations in terms of trade and economic matters, to be significant,” said Khan, reported the news outlets
This same trust deficit also plays out in what the political leadership in both countries feel about how to deal with Afghanistan.
Just last month, in an interview with news agency Associated Press (AP), Khan said US President Donald Trump’s policy on Afghanistan was “deeply flawed.” He said US attacks against militants in Pakistan won’t end the protracted war in Afghanistan, which is now in its 17th year and the longest US military engagement.
Trump “neither understands the history of Pakistan nor the character of the Afghan people”, said Khan to AP. He also criticized US drone strikes in Pakistan, saying they kill innocent people and have failed to bring success.
While Khan didn’t express himself this frankly to the acting US envoy on Wednesday, he didn’t mince words on what he thinks needs to be done to bring peace to his country’s troubled neighbour.
“Pakistan has always wished for a stable and peaceful Afghanistan. I have always pushed for a political solution for the Afghan war”, said Khan.
Then came his second jibe.
“It is pleasant to see voices rising from the US also in favour of a political solution for the Afghan war. War and the use of military force has never been the solution for Afghanistan’s situation”, said Khan.
Meanwhile, another news outlet Daily Pakistan reported two days ago that Khan is expected to visit the US for the first time as his country’s premier next month. He’s expected to attend the 73rd United Nations General Assembly session in New York which is to be held in the second week of September.
Meanwhile, Khan was expected to be take the oath as Prime Minister of Pakistan on August 11. That was then pushed to the 14th or 15th of August, and now it appears it could be later than that.
Pakistan’s election commission on Tuesday withheld the victory notifications of Khan from two of the five constituencies from where he contested in the July 25 general elections, possibly jeopardising his plans to be sworn-in as the new prime minister, reported news agency PTI.