Imran presses Trump to seek Afghan Taliban deal - GulfToday

Imran presses Trump to seek Afghan Taliban deal


Imran Khan And Donald Trump. File

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday encouraged US President Donald Trump to restart talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban, saying there ultimately had to be a political settlement.

“I am meeting with President Trump later on and I will tell that, look, there’s not going to be a military solution,” he told the Council on Foreign Relations before the two leaders’ meeting later Monday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

“For 19 years if you have not been able to succeed, you’re not going to be able to succeed in another 19 years,” Imran said.

Trump has frequently called for an end to America’s longest war, launched after the Sept.11, 2001 attacks, and a senior US diplomat reached a deal to pull troops after a year of negotiating with Taliban militants.

But Trump abruptly ended talks earlier this month, revealing on Twitter that he had invited Taliban leaders to the United States but canceled their visit after a bombing in Kabul killed a US soldier.

Imran — whose government has sought to use its influence with the Taliban — admitted that Trump’s snapping off diplomacy caught him off-guard. “We read it in the paper. It should have been at least been discussed with us,” he said.

 Khan, a former cricket star who has long criticized military operations against extremists, discounted the possibility that the Taliban would topple the internationally recognised government in Kabul without US troops.

“I don’t think the Taliban will be able to control the whole country. I think there will be a settlement,” he said.

“I honestly believe that this is not the Taliban of 2001. There are lot of things that happened and I believe they will be more accommodating,” he said.

Imran also said he would make a new pitch to Trump to mediate on Kashmir.

Trump a day earlier held a joint rally with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist whose government last month revoked the Muslim-majority region’s autonomy and cut off most ordinary people’s cellular and internet service.

Earlier during the day, a delegation of Kashmiri leaders, US Senator Lindsey Graham and Amnesty Secretary General Kumi Naidoo called on Imran to discuss the Kashmir issue.

In his meeting with Naidoo, the Pakistan prime minister apprised him of the “deteriorating human rights situation” in Indian Kashmir.

Imran, while voicing grave concern over the situation in Kashmir, lauded the role of Senator Graham in strengthening Pak-US ties.

He said a human tragedy is being witnessed in Kashmir due to Indian lockdown in the Valley. “Indian steps are a clear threat to regional peace and stability,” he said.

He said the US can play a positive role in resolving the lingering Kashmir dispute.

Imran also met a delegation of Kashmiri leaders from both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) led by Ghulam Nabi Fai.

Imran said the international community must put pressure on India to immediately lift the “draconian” curfew in Indian Kashmir.

He said it was essential to ensure that the Kashmir dispute is resolved according to the wishes of the Kashmiris and in line with the UN Security Council resolutions.

Imran also met Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation.

According to Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is accompanying Imran on the trip, Khalilzad in the meeting shared with the Prime Minister “how far his negotiations with the Taliban had gone, the nature of the talks and what expectations he holds in the future,” Dawn news reported.

“So he (Khalilzad) presented his entire analysis of the US-Taliban talks,” Qureshi added while briefing the media about Imran’s meetings.

Qureshi also briefed the press about the Prime Minister’s other engagements for the day and the delegation’s efforts to raise the issue of Kashmir with various international human rights organisations, including Amnesty International and the International Red Cross.

“We thanked him (Graham) for taking on the responsibility to raise his voice for the unarmed Kashmiris...,” Qureshi said, adding that the visiting Pakistani delegation had requested Senator Graham to continue to raise his voice and told him that US Congress can play an important role in this.


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