Pak­istan’s Im­ran Khan talks US re­la­tions

Coun­try’s elec­tions for prime min­is­ter will be held later this year.

The Citizens' Voice - - Nation & World - BY KATHY GAN­NON

ISLAMABAD — Famed cricketer turned politi­cian Im­ran Khan said Satur­day that meet­ing U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump would be a “bit­ter pill” to swal­low should he be­come Pak­istan’s prime min­is­ter in elec­tions later this year, but added “I would meet him.”

In a press brief­ing, Khan, who has an in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion as a ladies man and at home is seen more as a re­li­gious con­ser­va­tive, said he has been a staunch op­po­nent of Pak­istan’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the war on ter­ror since it be­gan in 2001 fol­low­ing the 9/11 at­tacks on the U.S.

“Pak­istan had noth­ing to do with it,” he said, adding that he sup­ported co-op­er­a­tion with the United States but not co-opt­ing Pak­istan’s mil­i­tary into a ground bat­tle with its own peo­ple in the tribal re­gions that bor­der Afghanistan and where Afghan in­sur­gents hide.

Pak­ista­nis are still out­raged two weeks af­ter Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet ac­cus­ing Islamabad of “de­ceit and lies,” and of tak­ing $33 bil­lion in aid over 15 years while har­bor­ing Afghan in­sur­gents, who are at­tack­ing Amer­i­can sol­diers in neigh­bor­ing Afghanistan.

Khan said that Trump scape­goated Pak­istan for the U.S.-led coali­tion’s fail­ure to de­feat the Tal­iban and bring peace to Afghanistan, and that “it was very in­sult­ing of him.”

Should he be­come Pak­istan’s prime min­is­ter, Khan said “yes we would talk,” re­fer­ring to Trump, but added that the U.S. dis­hon­ors the mem­ory of thou­sands of Pak­istan’s sol­diers who died bat­tling in­sur­gents in its tribal re­gions, as well as that of tens of thou­sands of Pak­ista­nis who died in ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

“The way the United States has treated Pak­istan as a door­mat is not fair,” he said.

Pak­istan’s pol­i­tics have been in tur­moil since Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif was dis­missed from power last year on cor­rup­tion charges and a party faith­ful, Shahid Khaqan Ab­basi, was sworn in as prime min­is­ter un­til new elec­tions are held. Khan re­ferred to Sharif ’s fam­ily, which dom­i­nates the rul­ing Pak­istan Mus­lim League as “a po­lit­i­cal mafia” that he vowed to de­feat at the polls.

It’s still not clear what kind of gov­ern­ment Khan en­vi­sions for Pak­istan. While he praises lib­er­als out­side Pak­istan as anti-war and com­mit­ted to hu­man­i­tar­ian val­ues and free­dom of speech, he rails against Pak­istani lib­er­als, chastis­ing them for sup­port­ing the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in the tribal re­gions.

ANJUM NAVEED / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

Pak­istani op­po­si­tion leader Im­ran Khan ges­tures dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Islamabad, Pak­istan, on July 28, 2017.

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