28 January 2020

Pakistani premier's US visit likely to thaw relations

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Prime Minister Imran Khan left for his maiden visit to the United States on Saturday hoping to quench heightened diplomatic tensions between the two allies, mainly on Afghanistan. reports citing Anadolu Agency.

In a first, the country’s top military leadership, including the powerful army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, and newly-appointed head of the spy agency, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Gen. Faiz Hameed are also accompanying Khan to hold talks with the Trump administration on a variety of issues ranging from terrorism to Afghanistan.

During his three-day visit, Khan will have a face-to-face meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday.

Bajwa will visit Pentagon to see newly-appointed chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to discuss the ongoing reconciliation process in war-struck Afghanistan.

Khan’s visit follows a crackdown on several banned militant outfits, notably Jamaat ud Dawah (JuD) whose chief Hafiz Saeed was arrested on a terror financing charge -- a move hailed by Trump.

Apart from Saeed, the leaders of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation -- a charity organization affiliated with the JuD -- were booked for allegedly making assets through terror financing.

Also, authorities have seized several religious seminaries and schools tied to these groups across Pakistan, a longtime demand of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) -- a global terror financing watchdog, which has already threatened to blacklist Islamabad if it fails to act against terror financing.

“He [Khan] is visiting the U.S in a different atmosphere. Things are not as bad as they were for his predecessors during the last one decade,” Tauseef Ahmad Khan, a Karachi-based political analyst, told Anadolu Agency.

Citing the ongoing crackdown against militant groups, he opined that the country’s civilian and military leadership had finally decided to discard support to militancy, which was not the case previously.

“For the first time, the country’s military and civilian leadership are on the same page with regard to action against militant groups regardless of the fact they are good or bad [for the state]. And Washington has noticed that.”

“Unfortunately, this was not the case in the past as the previous government did not have the support of army establishment for a uniform action against these groups.”

This, he added, would “certainly” help Khan while presenting his country’s case during talks on terrorism with the Trump administration.

2019.07.21 / 19:53
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