ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday called meeting with US President Donald Trump a ‘bitter pill to swallow’ but added ‘I would meet him.’
‘I have been a staunch opponent of Pakistan's participation in the war on terror since it began in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks on the US,’ the Associated Press quoted Khan as saying.
"Pakistan had nothing to do with it," he said, adding that he supported co-operation with the United States but not co-opting Pakistan's military into a ground battle with its own people in the tribal regions that border Afghanistan and where Afghan insurgents hide.
Pakistan has responded angrily to Trump’s New Year tweet accusing Islamabad of ‘lies and deceit’ during the war on terror despite receiving billions of dollars in aid.
Referring to Trump’s outburst, the PTI chief said the US president scapegoated Pakistan for the US-led coalition's failure to defeat the Taliban and bring peace to Afghanistan, and that "it was very insulting of him."
Should he become Pakistan's prime minister, Khan said "yes we would talk," referring to Trump, but added that the US dishonors the memory of thousands of Pakistan's soldiers who died battling insurgents in its tribal regions, as well as that of tens of thousands of Pakistanis who died in terrorist attacks.
"The way the United States has treated Pakistan as a doormat is not fair," he said.
At the press briefing, Khan said he was committed to "mainstreaming" Pakistan's tens of thousands of madrassas, which provide the only education for more than 2 million children, many of them among the poorest.
He said he wants madrassa school graduates to have skills that will allow them to find jobs across all sectors. As it stands, madrassa graduates are ill-equipped to work as anything other than clerics or prayer leaders.
"We will train their teachers to bring them into the mainstream," he said, without providing details on how that would be accomplished.