We’re not your hired gun, de­fi­ant Im­ran tells US

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - World - Agen­cies let­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com

BI­LAT­ERAL TEN­SIONS Says Wash­ing­ton has pushed Is­lam­abad away IS­LAM­ABAD:

Prime Minister Im­ran Khan has ac­cused the US of “push­ing Pak­istan away” and said he would never want to have a re­la­tion with Wash­ing­ton where his coun­try is treated like a “hired gun”.

“I would never want to have a re­la­tion­ship where Pak­istan is treated like a hired gun - given money to fight some­one else’s war,” Khan said in an in­ter­view with The Wash­ing­ton Post on Thurs­day.

The Pak­istan prime minister was re­fer­ring to the 1980s war against the Soviet Union and the on­go­ing war on ter­ror.

“We should never put our­selves in this po­si­tion again. It not only cost us hu­man lives, dev­as­ta­tion of our tribal ar­eas, but it also cost us our dig­nity. We would like a proper re­la­tion­ship with the US,” he said.

Asked to elab­o­rate on the ideal na­ture of re­la­tion­ship that Is­lam­abad would like to have with Wash­ing­ton, Khan said, “For in­stance, our re­la­tion­ship with China is not one-di­men­sional. It’s a trade re­la­tion­ship be­tween two coun­tries. We want a sim­i­lar re­la­tion­ship with the US.”

He said Pak­istan was not “hedg­ing” to­wards China, rather it was Wash­ing­ton’s at­ti­tude that had brought a change in the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship.

“The US has ba­si­cally pushed Pak­istan away,” he said.

Asked why he “har­boured anti-US sen­ti­ments”, Khan said dis­agree­ing with Wash­ing­ton’s poli­cies did not make him “anti- Amer­i­can”.

“This is a very im­pe­ri­al­is­tic ap­proach. You are ei­ther with me or against me,” he said.

Khan con­demned the 2011 US op­er­a­tion in Ab­bot­tabad that killed Osama bin Laden, say­ing it was “hu­mil­i­at­ing” that Wash­ing­ton did not trust Pak­istan to kill the ter­ror­ist.

“It was hu­mil­i­at­ing that we were los­ing our soldiers and civil­ians and suf­fer­ing ter­ror­ist at­tacks be­cause we were par­tic­i­pat­ing in the US war, and then our ally did not trust us to kill Bin Laden,” he said, adding that the US “should have tipped off Pak­istan”.

“We did not know whether we were a friend or a foe (of the US),” he said.

Re­fer­ring to US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s South Asia pol­icy, Khan said he was com­mit­ted to hav­ing di­a­logue to achieve peace in war-torn Afghanistan.

“I talked for years about how there was no mil­i­tary so­lu­tion in Afghanistan and they called me Tal­iban Khan. Now I’m happy ev­ery­one re­alises there is only a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion,” the Pak­istan prime minister said.

PAK MIL­I­TARY SEEKS PEACE WITH IN­DIA

Pak­istan’s mil­i­tary is mak­ing an un­usu­ally strong ef­fort to mend ties with In­dia, as top gen­er­als worry about a de­te­ri­o­rat­ing econ­omy amid frac­tious re­la­tions with Trump.

Cur­rent and for­mer Pak­istani mil­i­tary of­fi­cials have told Bloomberg that both a slow­ing econ­omy and pres­sure from Bei­jing to im­prove ties with the West is prompt­ing the shift on In­dia.

At the same time, they said, the Pak­istan gov­ern­ment is wary of be­com­ing too de­pen­dent on China af­ter Trump cut $2 bil­lion in se­cu­rity aid.

Among the pro­po­nents of a de­tente with In­dia is Pak­istan’s pow­er­ful army chief, Qamar Javed Ba­jwa, who once served un­der an In­dian gen­eral dur­ing a stint with a UN peace­keep­ing mis­sion and is seen as more mod­er­ate than his pre­de­ces­sors.

En­ter­ing his fi­nal year in of­fice, Ba­jwa last week called a move to ease border con­trols with In­dia for vis­it­ing Sikh pil­grims “a step to­wards peace which our re­gion needs”.

REUTERS/FILE

Pak­istan Prime Minister Im­ran Khan

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