Washington: After years of discord over Afghanistan, United States President Donald Trump will push Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan to pressure the Taliban to strike a peace deal, with the aim of extricating from US’ longest war, a Trump administration official said on Friday.
Khan will be embarking on a three-day maiden official visit to Washington on July 21 on the invitation of Trump. The administration official in a teleconference told reporters that Trump expects concrete cooperation from Pakistan and also the doors remain open to repairing the US-Pak relations, only if the latter changes its policy on terror.
The cooperation–also highlighted by the arrest of 2008 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed earlier this week — has helped pave the way for Khan to visit Trump at the White House next Monday.
However, officials reveal that Washington is being realistic and is aware of how Saeed’s detention in the past has been historically fabricated. The US is alert this time around and wants to make sure this arrest is not a cosmetic move ahead of Khan’s visit.
The senior official added that the Trump administration is clear-eyed, realistic and that the US will look out for Pakistan prosecuting Saeed.
“We are concerned about the terror outfits that are based in Pakistan and the infiltration of these terror outfits into the country’s intelligence agency ISI. But we welcome PM Khan’s pledge not to harbour (them on Pakistani soil,” the official said.
Trump suspended security aid for Pakistan in January 2018, alleging that the country’s government does not do enough to combat terrorist groups. The official said that aid would only be restored if Pakistan satisfies Washington’s concerns about its support for both the Taliban and groups alleged to have engaged in terrorism in India.
US officials are touting the meeting between Trump and Khan as an important moment for both sides, while playing down perceons that the US is rewarding Pakistan or, as Islamabad wants, broadening bilateral ties beyond the current focus on terrorism issues.
The official told ANI that the Trump-Khan meet will address a range of issues such as counter-terrorism, defence, energy, and trade.
“We would encourage Pakistan to create an opportunity for easing trade restrictions transiting from Pakistan between India and Afghanistan,” the official added.
Analysts reveal that the US President will have a pretty narrow-minded view informed by his strong desire to get out of Afghanistan so that the visit may not overstate the improvement in bilateral ties.
During the three-day official working visit, Trump will greet Khan on his arrival at the Oval Office, followed by a bilateral meeting between the two leaders and finally, there will be an expanded bilateral meet that will include a number of senior officials from the Trump administration.