Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in the United States on Saturday, accompanied by foreign secretary Sohail Mahmood, two army heads, and commerce adviser Abdul Razzak. He will have a meeting with President Donald Trump at Oval Office in White House on Monday, when a presidential lunch will be hosted for the visiting Asian leader.
In what is believed to be a sign of weak positioning by Pakistan’s elected leader, Imran Khan took along with him two top military generals for participation in discussions with American top brass. They are Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and the director general of Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) Faiz Hameed. This is the first time military generals are accompanying a visiting PM.
US acting chief of protocol Mary Kate-Fisher and Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi were among a large number of Pakistani Americans present at the airport to receive the PM.
The visit is more significant this time, as the Trump administration had cancelled military aid to Pakistan on the ground it did not do enough to control acts of terrorists based in its soil. Weeks ago, Trump had gone on record to say Pakistan has given us nothing other than “lies and deceit.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to hold talks with Khan on Tuesday. Khan would also use the visit to hold discussions with IMF acting chief David Lipton and World Bank president David Malpass.
In a visible sign of austerity, well-appreciated back home, the Pakistan Prime Minister avoided luxury hotels and opted to stay at the residence of the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Assad Majeed Khan. A top Pakistani leader is visiting the US on official purpose after a gap of four years. Nawaz Sharif was in the US in October 2015.
Discussions between US president and Khan would centre around issues like progress in the anti-terrorism efforts of Pakistan, the Afghan peace process and restoration of military aid to Paksitan.The US officials had stated a few days ago that arrests of those like UN-designated global terrorists LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and JuD leader Masood Azhar in Pakistan were just “window-dressing” and lacked sincerity of purpose.
Meanwhile, in another jolt to Khan, some 10 US Congressmen have advised Donald Trump to raise the issue of human rights violations by Pakistani security forces in Sindh province. They referred to reports about large-scale “disappearance” of activists in Sindh; a euphemism for liquidation by security forces.
Cricketer-turned PM, Imran Khan, a popular figure among the Pakistani and Indian diaspora, would address Pakistani Americans in Washington DC on Sunday and would speak at the US Institute of Peace think tank on Tuesday, before his departure from the US. –Agencies, IHN-NN
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