Prime Minister Imran Khan met US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s annual summit in Davos. The informal yet cordial meeting was the third between the two leaders since the prime minister visited Washington in July last year.
The two leaders agreed to continue efforts to seek a long standing political settlement for the war in Afghanistan. This is Trump’s final year in office with presidential elections slated for November. Trump certainly needs Pakistan’s assistance to close the deal with the Afghan Taliban, which he will term as his achievement as he seeks re-election.
Trump called Imran Khan a ‘friend’ saying that he is happy to meet him, and claimed that US-Pakistan relations are closer than ever before. The two leaders discussed ways to expand the US-Pakistan trade ties. The progress in Pakistan’s turbulent relationship with US stems from facilitating the ongoing peace talks with the Afghan Taliban which are slowly closing in.
With regards to the escalating tensions between Pakistan and India, the US president once again offered to mediate the contentious Kashmir dispute. Trump said he has been closely following the issue and promised to talk with Indian Prime Minister Modi on the issue. Trump is scheduled to visit India next month on his maiden trip. It is doubtful whether he will fulfill his promise and speak to Modi as India has refused any third party interference on Kashmir.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has doubted whether Modi will accept Trump’s mediation offer. Speaking to international media outlets, he said that India has been overtaken by an extremist ideology that could potentially spill into an armed conflict. While ruling out any imminent threat, he has urged world powers particularly the US and UN to play a greater role and act to resolve the Kashmir dispute.
PM Imran Khan has welcomed Trump’s remarks, describing tensions with India as a key issue for Pakistan. He hoped that US will play its part in resolving the Kashmir dispute because no other country can. Since Pakistan has helped US in the Afghan peace process, perhaps it is finally time that US returns the favour.