We won’t be your hired gun, Khan tells US
Pakistan prime minister says former relationship with the White House ‘cost us our dignity’
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.