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July 19, 2019

Imran Khan’s US visit: Economy, Afghan peace process, India to be priority issues for Pakistan

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July 19, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Economy, Afghan peace process and issues related to India will be the three top issues on Pakistan’s agenda during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the United States, diplomatic and defence experts believe.

Prime Minister Khan’s upcoming visit to US will be successful as Pakistan has done a lot of positive things during the last two years especially on Afghan peace process, believe diplomatic and defence experts. Pakistan will focus on three key issues during Khan’s meeting with US President Donald Trump. Although many bilateral issues will be part of the agenda during the high level meeting but economy will be number one on agenda item. Afghan peace process issues related to India will be the second and third most important issues for Pakistani side, believe the experts. Both the diplomatic as well as defence experts believe, Pakistan has played significant role in bringing Taliban on the dialogue table and America too has recognized this cooperation. For the Americans, Afghan peace process, upcoming withdrawal of US Forces from Afghanistan would be the key issue on the agenda during this high level bilateral meeting.

According to the diplomatic experts, the recent steps taken by Pakistan to reform its economic sector has been widely appreciated by the United States. This will be a boost for the Pakistani leadership while discussing the bilateral economic opportunities. Both the diplomatic as well as defence experts believe issues like Dr Aafia Siddiqui repatriation or Dr Shakil Afridi might not be discussed in this meeting. The US Administration has realized it that American interests in the region are linked with Pakistan’s cooperation and this is the reason India is not included in the core group of four countries (Pakistan, U.S.A, China and Afghanistan) for Afghan peace process. This is one of the major success for Pakistan in the recent years to exclude India from the Afghan peace process.

Former Secretary Defence Lt Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik while talking to The News said priority wise economy would be no one in Pakistan’s agenda whereas Afghanistan would be the second most important issue whereas India would be number three in Pakistan’s priority list. “Pakistan will also try to convince the US Administration for taking part in China Pakistan Economic Corridor. At least Pakistan will ask the US administration for convincing its private sector to invest in the CPEC. Prime Minister will also inform the US Administration particularly President Trump about the Indian hostile attitude towards Pakistan”, commented Lieut Gen (retd) Asif. Pakistan probably is the only country which has taken drastic measures to control the money laundering and focusing on meeting the FATF demands. The present government has successfully resolved the issues related with IMF and FATF. Therefore, during the meeting Pakistani side will not focus on IMF and FATF. Prime Minister Imran Khan would rather concentrate on convincing the US Administration for direct American investment in Pakistan, believes Lieut Gen (retd) Asif.

“According to my information, Pakistan has played key role in convincing Afghan Taliban to sit on dialogue table. The negotiation for Afghan peace process between all the stakeholders are in progress and by the end of this year hopefully the world will see a major breakthrough in this regard. The present US. Administration recognize the efforts and this is one of the reason U.S. President has invited Prime Minister Imran Khan”, informed the the retired general officer. When asked whether Pakistan will request the US administration for the reimbursement of outstanding dues in terms of Coalition Support Fund (CSF), the former secretary defence said the issue of CSF might not be discussed during this meeting because this is not much important for Pakistan at the moment.

Similarly, repatriation of Aafia Siddiqui or handing over of Dr Shakil Afridi to the US might not be discussed during this meeting as both the issues are least important for such high level meeting. Though Prime Minister Imran Khan will raise belligerent attitude of India towards Pakistan. Despite repeated confidence building measures taken by Pakistan including handing over of Indian Pilot Abhinandan, Kartarpur Corridor, extending invitation for dialogue and India's negative response.

Former Secretary Foreign Affairs and Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani believe Afghan peace process will be the priority number one during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the US. Although both sides will discuss different bilateral issues during this meeting but for Pakistan, economy will be the major area of focus during this visit. “I have been to US. Until recently and have noticed that the Americans have appreciated recent steps taken by Pakistan to bring reforms in economic sector. They are appreciate Pakistan for these measures. The Americans have also realized Pakistan’s importance in the region and they know the U.S interests are directly related to Pakistan if it has to stay in this region. Pakistan has taken number of positive steps during last two years and the present U.S Administration has recognized this publicly. Trump’s invitation to Prime Minister Imran Khan itself is a recognition of Pakistan’s services for ensuring peace in the region”, commented the former secretary foreign affairs.

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