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Does Saudi Crown Prince has a part to play in Khan’s US visit?

Diplomatic sources reveal that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman arranged Imran Khan’s ongoing trip to the US by contacting his good friend, Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son in law and adviser.

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News Desk |

Prime Minister Imran Khan will commence his official visit to Washington on Saturday, a visit that has been actualized due to the intervention of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. PM Khan’s agenda involves improving bilateral relations, eliminating mistrust and attracting US investment and trade for Pakistan.

Premier Imran Khan is making his maiden trip to the US on an official invitation from US President Donald Trump. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa will also accompany the Prime Minister, allowing the civilian and military leadership to represent the country in a wide-ranging bilateral discussions spanning over diplomatic and military channels.

President Trump’s letter to Imran Khan, asking Pakistan to play a facilitating role in the Afghan reconciliation process.

Analysts are of the opinion that Gen Qamar Bajwa has a crucial role to play during the visit, and he will be involved in multiple close-door engagements and meetings. It appears that the Pakistan Army seeks to rebuild its defense cooperation and persuade the US to reinstate aid that was stopped by President Trump.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s official visit to the White House and one-on-one meeting with President Trump, scheduled for 22nd July, is the result of unwavering diplomatic efforts which have been underway for months.

Read more: PM Khan named among the Time’s most influential people’ 2019

MBS & Jared Kushner: Who to Thank?

Speculations from diplomatic channels, as circulating in the media, reveal that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is responsible for arranging Prime Minister Khan’s upcoming official visit to the US. Apparently, he employed his personal contacts with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son in law and senior adviser, who succeeded in wringing out an official invitation to the White House for Imran Khan.

The diplomatic efforts to ensure an official invitation from the US commenced in December 2018, following President Trump’s letter to Imran Khan, asking Pakistan to play a facilitating role in the Afghan reconciliation process.

Premier Imran Khan is making his maiden trip to the US on an official invitation from US President Donald Trump.

Diplomatic sources reveal that Prime Minister Imran Khan was determined to sit down for a one-on-one meeting with President Trump because he believed that “such an interaction would aid in eliminating mistrust over outstanding issues and clarify Pakistan’s role in the region and with regards to its relations with the US.”

However, for a long time, Islamabad failed to convince the US administration to arrange an Imran-Trump meeting in the US, and the ongoing regional tensions deepened the mistrust between the two nations. Islamabad understood that it had to go past the US bureaucracy and establish direct contact with Trump.

Read more: Bilawal Bhutto calls PM Imran ‘incompetent, unskilled’

Diplomatic sources reveal that Islamabad began employing unconventional channels, and given Saudi Crown Prince’s “close ties” with Jared Kushner, Pakistan decided to approach MBS for a favor.

Upon assuming the Prime Ministerial office, Imran Khan has held several engagements with the Saudi Crown Prince, alongside an official visit to Pakistan, which allowed them to build a personal relationship. Sources reveal that the “good offices” of future Saudi King Mohammad bin Salman were used to approach Jared Kushner, who convinced his father-in-law Trump to dispatch an official invitation for Imran Khan.

Another Figure: Senator Lindsey Graham

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a close aide to President Trump, is another figure who is accredited for Pakistan’s unwavering diplomatic efforts to build ties with Washington. Graham visited Islamabad earlier in January, and expressed that he was “blown away” by Imran Khan’s vision for Afghanistan and the region at large.

Read more: Naya Pakistan: PM Khan urges the nation to pay taxes

Senator Graham also underscored that PM Khan and President Trump have similar personalities, and would appreciate each other’s vision and agendas for the region.

After his meeting with the premier, Senator Graham, while speaking with the press, noted that he will “urge Trump to meet with the Prime Minister as soon as possible.”

Diplomatic sources reveal that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi remained in contact with Senator Graham, who requested Trump to extend an official invitation to Imran Khan.

Read more: Khan Trump meeting confirmed for July 22

Agendas: Bilateral Ties & Regional Issues

The main agenda behind the unwavering diplomatic efforts for an Imran-Trump meeting was to carve out a space for an “open and candid” discussion between the leadership of the two countries. Diplomatic sources reveal that the Imran Khan-led delegation intends to focus its discussions on bilateral ties and regional tensions, including the Afghan reconciliation process and more.

Trump’s son in law and senior adviser, who succeeded in wringing out an official invitation to the White House for Imran Khan.

Prime Minister Khan will brief Trump and his cabinet with his vision for the future of Pak-US relations, and the future of Afghanistan in the region. Analysts believe that both the leaders have an unconventional manner of dealing with dignitaries and summits, which is why it is likely for Imran to return with positive outcomes.

Trump’s concerns lie in Afghanistan, while Pakistan seeks to broaden its bilateral ties with the US, and achieve assistance to uplift its economic growth. Diplomatic sources reveal that Trump’s invitation to the premier is in acknowledgement of the “positive role” Islamabad has played in the Afghan reconciliation process.

Read more: Imran Khan: The People’s Prime Minister 

Analysts underscored the threats emerging from the “influential Indian lobby” seated in Washington, but sources reveal that the Imran Khan-led delegation is well-prepared. Days before the premier commenced his journey to Washington, Hafiz Saeed, who is accused by New Delhi of being the alleged mastermind of the November 2008 Mumbai Attacks, was arrested.

President Trump attributed Saeed’s arrest to himself, and noted that his government has been exerting “great pressure” on Islamabad for his arrest during the past two years.

Analysts maintain that while the arrest was not ordered to appease Washington, it was undertaken to curb the Indian lobby and malignant anti-Pakistan propaganda.

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