Washington, July 21
Imran Khan’s maiden visit to the US as Pakistan’s Prime Minister will be “weak in substance” and there is nothing he can promise that hasn’t been promised before, a former top diplomat has said.
“Imran Khan will be selling old wares to a new US president. There is nothing he can promise that hasn’t been promised before,” former Pakistan Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani told PTI.
Khan, 66, accompanied by Pakistani Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and the director general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), arrived in the US on a commercial Qatar Airways plane Saturday afternoon.
“The visit will be weak on substance, notwithstanding the symbolic value of a Pakistani prime minister and the army chief showing up at the White House together to make new promises on counterterrorism cooperation,” Haqqani said.
Khan is scheduled to meet the US President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday. Following a meeting in the Oval Office, Trump will host the visiting prime minister for a working lunch at the White House.
“The fact that the COAS (Bajwa) and DG ISI are accompanying the PM on his first trip to the US since he was elected makes it clear that Khan is not in charge and the army wants to deal with the US directly to reassure the Americans,” Haqqani said in response to a question.
Ahead of Khan’s arrival, a senior administration official ruled out any changes in its policy of suspension of security aid to Pakistan till the time Islamabad takes decisive and irreversible actions against terrorist groups inside its territory.
“Although the summit meeting will unlikely result in any major developments, its success or lack of success will be evident in the follow-up. Does Pakistan release (Hafiz) Saeed (as it always has before)? Does the White House resume economic assistance? Does Pakistan play a more helpful role in counterterrorism efforts and talks with the Taliban? These are important questions that will only be answered after Khan returns to Islamabad,” Anish Goel, who served in the National Security Council of the White House during the previous Obama Administration, told PTI.
According to Goel, Khan’s visit to the White House is an important opportunity for him and Trump to put the bilateral relations back on positive footing.
The past year has generated almost nothing but negative headlines, and both leaders know that they need each other and need to work together, he said.
The recent arrest of Saeed, the Mumbai attack mastermind, is a clear indication that Pakistan wants to build goodwill in Washington, he added.
“If the summit goes well, it can only have positive impacts for Afghanistan and India in terms of regional dynamics. The United States now shares important strategic objectives with both these countries and will most certainly not make any concessions damaging to those interests. As such, observers in both Kabul and New Delhi should be hoping for a successful meeting,” Goel said. PTI