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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Trump-Imran meeting: Political Afghan solution, US mediation in Kashmir

Addressing the press in the Oval Office, Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump agreed to work closely together to reach a political settlement in Afghanistan. President Trump acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts in Afghanistan and even offered to play the role of a mediator in resolving the Kashmir dispute.

News Desk |

Prime Minister Imran Khan and his delegation was graciously received by US President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday, for their first one-on-one conservation during the 3-day US visit. The defense-delegation, led by the Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, followed the premier’s shortly after.

The Prime Minister was received by President Trump upon arrival, and the White House administration was indeed overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of Imran Khan and PTI supporters, who had gathered to cheer their Prime Minister.

Addressing the press inside the Oval Office, President Donald Trump appreciated Pakistan’s cooperation with the US in facilitating a dignified exit from Afghanistan, as the US is no longer willing to act as “policemen” in South Asia, and seeks a sustainable political solution to the 19-year long war.

In a dynamic turn of events, the US President even offered his assistance as a “mediator” to help India and Pakistan reach a mutually-agreeable resolution to the Kashmir issue. He also mentioned that a sustainable understanding between the two leaders can also resume the deliverance of US aid to Pakistan.

The Prime Minister was also given a tour of the White House, and introduced to the First Lady, Melania Trump.

Pakistan will Extricate the US from Afghanistan

President Trump stated that he had a “great” meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, and added that there is “tremendous potential between the US and Pakistan.” He added that “Pakistan is going to help us extricate ourselves” from Afghanistan.

Trump mentioned, “We are working with Pakistan and the others to extricate ourselves.”

Discussing the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan, Trump stated, “We have already withdrawn quite a few, and we are doing it very slowly, very safely. And we are working with Pakistan, and as you know, we are negotiating with the Taliban, and we are doing very well in that regard.”

The US President noted that Washington was paying 1.3 billion to Pakistan as aid, but before the Imran Khan-led government, Islamabad was acting subversive by “going against us.”

Trump noted that he can extricate the US military from Afghanistan within 10 days by carrying out a military solution, however, he is against killing millions. The President noted that Washington is working with Pakistan and other regional partners to reach a political solution.

He stated, “We have been there for 19 years, and we acted as policemen not soldiers. If we wanted to be soldiers, it would be over in 10 days.”

Trump stated that Pakistan is going to be a “big help” and Prime Minister Imran Khan agreed with the President, stating, “There is no military solution in Afghanistan.”

The premier said, “We hope that in the coming days, we will be able to urge the Taliban to speak to the Afghan government, and come to a settlement, a political solution.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan added that he was always an advocate for a political settlement, and he complimented President Trump’s agenda that “forced” all stakeholders to reach a political solution. Stressing the need for healthy relations between the two countries, the Premier assured Trump of honest and straight-forward agreements of assistance, adding that “there will never be any doubts on Pakistan’s intent.”

New Leadership: New Relations

The US President noted that Washington was paying 1.3 billion to Pakistan as aid, but before the Imran Khan-led government, Islamabad was acting subversive by “going against us.” The US President added that after suspending the aid, the relationship between the two countries has improved, and the aid can be resumed, provided the two countries can come to an agreement.

Read more: Peace in Afghanistan only Possible with Pakistan’s Support: US Senator

Trump stressed the need to have a great relationship with Pakistan, he said, “Pakistanis are great people, they are smart and tough, there is no question about that.” Nudging towards Prime Minister Khan, Trump said, “They are tough, like him.”

Responding to a question on the possibility of him visiting Pakistan, Trump quipped, “Well, I can’t say that yet, because so far, he has not extended me an invitation.” President Trump said if invited, he would “love to go to Pakistan.”

Lamenting that the former leaderships of Pakistan did not respect the US government, Trump stated, “I think they could have helped us a lot in the past, but it doesn’t matter. We have a new leader; he is going to be a great leader of Pakistan.”

This has been going on for many, many years. I think they would like to see it resolved, and I think you would like to see it resolved. And if I can help, I would love to be a mediator.

Acknowledging Pakistan’s support, Trump remarked, “I think Pakistan is going to do a lot. I really do. I think Pakistan is going to make a big difference. I think Pakistan will save millions of lives in Afghanistan because I really believe they can — they have a power that other nations don’t have with respect to Afghanistan.”

Trump added, “As of this moment, they are working very hard and very nicely with us.”

Trump: Mediator for Kashmir?

Responding to a question about US assistance in the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, PM Khan noted that he intends to ask President Trump to play a role in reaching a political settlement. Khan said, “As the most powerful country in the world, the United States can play the most important role in bringing peace to the subcontinent.”

Imran Khan stated that the people of the subcontinent are “held hostage” by the issue of Kashmir, and Pakistan has tried its best to make diplomatic overtures to India to initiate dialogue, and he has urged President Trump to assist Islamabad in making headway in this issue.

In response, President Trump said, “So I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago, and we talked about this subject, and he actually questioned, ‘Would you like to be a mediator, or an arbitrator?’ I said, ‘Where?’ and he replied, ‘Kashmir.’

“This has been going on for many, many years. I think they would like to see it resolved, and I think you would like to see it resolved. And if I can help, I would love to be a mediator.”

Read more: India denies Trump’s Kashmir mediator statement: “No such request made”

Trump added, “It’s impossible to believe that two incredible countries that are very, very smart, with a very smart leadership, can’t solve a problem like that. But if you would want me to mediate, or arbitrate, I would do that.”

Trump’s offer for mediation has been rejected by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, and New Delhi has expressed surprise, claiming that Modi never asked Trump to mediate on the Kashmir issue, since it is strictly a subject of bilateral discussion between India and Pakistan.

Commenting on the “level of incompetence” exhibited by President Trump on Kashmir, Edward Luce, US National Editor of the Financial Times, noted, “Worth elaborating on the level of incompetence Trump showed today on Kashmir. Those unfamiliar with Indo-Pak situation may not realize that his offer to mediate on Kashmir dispute ranks among the most consequential mistakes he has made. But that’s the least of it.”

Luce added, “He lied in the most idiotic way possible – one that would be immediately be refuted by a fellow leader.”

Jan Achakzai, senior political analyst with close ties in diplomatic circles, noted that Trump’s comments on his role as a mediator on the issue of Kashmir has provided Pakistan with a “PR coup” against India.

Achakzai added, “But they (New Delhi) cannot contradict Trump, as it will cast him a liar nor Modi can take a different position when he is scheduled to visit the White House in November 2019. Historic inflection point on Indian-Occupied Kashmir: Trump, Imran Khan & Modi are best suited to resolve the Kashmir issue.”