We won’t be your hired gun, Khan tells US

Pak­istan prime minister says for­mer re­la­tion­ship with the White House ‘cost us our dig­nity’

The Daily Telegraph - - World news - By Ben Farmer in Is­lam­abad

PAK­ISTAN will no longer be Amer­ica’s “hired gun” to fight its wars, Im­ran Khan has said.

Af­ter trad­ing barbs with Don­ald Trump in re­cent weeks, Pak­istan’s prime minister said he still wanted to be friends with the US, but wanted a broader re­la­tion­ship reach­ing be­yond se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion.

The for­mer crick­eter also told The Wash­ing­ton Post that Pak­istan was grow­ing closer to China be­cause the US “has ba­si­cally pushed Pak­istan away”.

Pres­i­dent Trump last month launched a tirade ac­cus­ing Pak­istan of du­plic­ity and “not do­ing a damn thing to help us” de­spite be­ing given bil­lions of dol­lars in mil­i­tary as­sis­tance.

Mr Khan said: “I would never want to have a re­la­tion­ship where Pak­istan is treated like a hired gun – given money to fight some­one else’s war. 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.”

Mr Khan dis­closed this week that the White House had writ­ten to him seek­ing help to bring peace to Afghanistan as part of Mr Trump’s push to jump­start ne­go­ti­a­tions.

US of­fi­cials want Pak­istan to use its in­flu­ence on the Tal­iban to bring them to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble and end the long-run­ning war.

How­ever, Mr Khan warned that a pre­cip­i­tous Amer­i­can with­drawal from Afghanistan would lead to a re­peat of the chaos of the 1990s.

“The last thing we want is to have chaos in Afghanistan. There should be a set­tle­ment this time,” he said.

Amer­i­can en­voys have met Tal­iban ne­go­tia­tors in the Gulf this year, but the mil­i­tants still refuse to talk to Ashraf Ghani’s Afghan gov­ern­ment.

Mr Ghani’s grip on the coun­try con­tin­ues to slip and his gov­ern­ment’s forces are suf­fer­ing such high ca­su­al­ties that US com­man­ders be­lieve they are not sus­tain­able.

Mr Khan also claimed his re­cent over­tures to im­prove ties with In­dia had been re­buffed be­cause the rul­ing BJP party there has “an anti-mus­lim, anti-pak­istan ap­proach”.

In­dia blames Pak­istan for har­bour­ing Is­lamist mil­i­tants who have car­ried out ter­ror at­tacks on In­dian soil. The In­dian gov­ern­ment was an­gered this year when Zaki-ur-rehman Lakhvi, the sus­pected mas­ter­mind of the 2008 Mumbai at­tacks, was freed on bail.

Mr Khan said: “We also want some­thing done about the bombers of Mumbai. Re­solv­ing that is in our in­ter­est be­cause it was an act of ter­ror­ism.”

The Pak­istani leader also said he be­lieved in a wel­fare state for his coun­try’s 210 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants and claimed that his eco­nomic views were closer to US left-winger Bernie San­ders than to Mr Trump.

Mean­while, Pak­istan an­nounced that it was ex­pelling 18 in­ter­na­tional char­i­ties and aid agen­cies af­ter they failed to over­turn ex­pul­sion or­ders. Shireen Mazari, the hu­man rights minister, said they spread mis­in­for­ma­tion.

The de­ci­sion was thought to have come af­ter pres­sure from the coun­try’s pow­er­ful spy ap­pa­ra­tus, which has pre­vi­ously ac­cused for­eign aid agen­cies of es­pi­onage. An­other 20 agen­cies are at risk of also be­ing re­moved.

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