After years of tension between Washington and Islamabad, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday insisted that the two are now on the same page, saying that he would do his best to persuade the Taliban to open negotiations with the Afghan government to resolve the war.
The US has been engaging with the Taliban, which has refused to talk directly to the Afghan government, which it sees as a puppet.
Afghans are wary of Pakistan’s involvement in crafting a future for their country, but Khan said that the Taliban needs to participate in the next Afghan presidential election in September.
“It’s not easy. It’s not going to be easy,” Khan said about getting the Taliban and the Afghan government to the negotiating table.
Khan said that the Taliban delegation to the US negotiations asked to meet with him a few months ago, probably because the prime minister has maintained that there is no military solution to the war in Afghanistan.
He said at the time that he did not agree to a meeting because the Afghan government did not want him meeting with the Taliban.
However, Khan said that he has spoken with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and that he would reach out to the militant group when he returns to Pakistan.
On Monday, Khan met with US President Donald Trump at the White House.
“Now, I will meet the Taliban and I will try my best to get them to talk to the Afghan government,” Khan said at the US Institute of Peace in Washington. “The election in Afghanistan must be an inclusive election where the Taliban are also participating.”
With all the talk about peace negotiations, Afghans were stunned on Monday when Trump said that he could unleash the US military and wipe Afghanistan off “the face of the earth” in a week or 10 days.
Trump’s casual comments were viewed with alarm, because the war has not been between the US and Afghanistan. For years, Afghan security forces have fought alongside their US and NATO partners against the Taliban.
Ghani’s office on Tuesday asked Trump to clarify his statement and said that Afghanistan would never “allow any foreign power to determine its fate.”
Afghans also are wary of statements coming from Pakistan. For years, they have accused Pakistan of creating instability in their country by giving militants a safe place from which to stage attacks across the two countries’ long, porous border.
Washington has also blamed Pakistan for harboring the insurgency, making it impossible to defeat the militants, who now control about half of Afghanistan, but not the cities.
Khan insisted that Pakistan is changing.
“It is the intent of Pakistan that we do not allow any armed militias in our country,” he said, acknowledging that they still reside in the country, but that the army was working to disarm them.
A senior Trump administration official said on condition of anonymity that the US welcomed Khan’s pledge that Pakistan would not allow its soil to be used by militant groups, but added that the administration was “clear-eyed” about the support that Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have given to militant groups and would look for “concrete action.”
Khan said that his meeting with Trump went well and that he believes the US and Pakistan are now “on the same page.”
“We loved our meeting with President Trump yesterday,” Khan said in a morning meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “I told the president, I said: ‘I’ve been a public guy for 40 years, and so when you go meet someone who is high-profile, you get a lot of advice.’ Never have I gotten so much advice.”
Warming relations would mark a turnaround for Khan and Trump, who has been sharply critical of the South Asian country.
The administration of former US president Barack Obama increased military and economic aid to Pakistan to about US$3 billion per year, but Trump cut it to about US$70 million in the current fiscal year, saying that the US was sending money to Pakistan, but was getting only “lies” in return.
Khan said that he did not ask Trump to restore the aid, which he said had created a “dependency syndrome” in Pakistan.
He said that he wants Pakistan to have a “dignified” relationship with the US based on “mutual trust,” adding that he never felt more humiliated than when the US carried out the raid on al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s compound inside Pakistan without giving Islamabad a heads-up.
“Our ally didn’t trust us,” Khan said. “For every Pakistani, it was humiliating.”
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable