Imran Khan accuses Donald Trump of ‘pushing Pakistan away’
Imran Khan has accused the US of “pushing Pakistan away” despite the country’s help to bring the Afghan Taliban to peace talks.
Reflecting on the two nations’ changing relationship, the Pakistani prime minister said his country would no longer want to be “treated like a hired gun”, referring to the war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s and the ongoing US “war on terror”.
Mr Khan and Donald Trump were involved in a Twitter spat last month after the American president suggested Pakistan had harboured Osama bin Laden despite receiving billions in US aid.
Mr Khan told The Washington Post: “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.”
The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018
Trump’s false assertions add insult to the injury Pak has suffered in US WoT in terms of lives lost & destabilised & economic costs. He needs to be informed abt historical facts. Pak has suffered enough fighting US’s war. Now we will do what is best for our people & our interests
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 19, 2018
He added: “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.”
When asked if Pakistan was trying to hedge its bets using China, Mr Khan replied: “The US has basically pushed Pakistan away.”
Bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks and the head of al Qaeda, was killed in 2011 during a raid by US special forces on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The raid strained relationship between America and long-time ally in the region.
On Twitter last month following the bin Laden accusations, Mr Khan said Mr Trump needed to be “informed about historical facts”, adding that Pakistan had “suffered enough fighting US’s war [on terror]”.
The former cricketer told the newspaper he was merely “setting the record straight” with Mr Trump “saying Pakistan was the reason for these sanctuaries [for Taliban leaders]”. The Pakistani leader insisted there “are no sanctuaries in Pakistan”.
He said: “The exchange was about being blamed for deeply flawed US policies – the military approach to Afghanistan.”
The comments come as Pakistan’s army backed US efforts for a political settlement with the Afghan Taliban to end 17 years of fighting. Major General Asif Ghafoor urged the US to leave Kabul as a “friend of the region” rather than a “failure”.
Mr Khan said peace in Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s interest and vowed to put pressure on the Afghan Taliban but said it was “easier said than done” with “about 40% of Afghanistan now out of the government’s hands”.
On Wednesday, he met with a US peace envoy in Islamabad and pledged to help find a political solution to the long-running war.
During last month’s exchange with Mr Trump, the Pakistani leader said his country had suffered 75,000 casualties and lost $123bn (£95.7bn) during America’s so-called war on terror despite no one from his country being involved in the 9/11 attacks.
He said the US provided a “minuscule” $20bn (£15.6bn) in aid.
In his latest interview, Mr Khan spoke also about his plans to tackle poverty in Pakistan and said he was inspired by the UK’s welfare state.
“I went as an 18-year-old to play cricket in England. It was the first time I saw a welfare state,” he said. “It cared for the underprivileged, for the people who can’t compete in the race.”