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The Deal At Doha, And…

Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, recently claimed that he knows India far better than his countrymen. Talking to the US media in the last week of June (2021), the Cricketer-turned-Politician stressed that he had enjoyed “love and respect” from the Indians during his playing days due to the two neighbouring countries’ shared love for cricket. The Pakistani Premier stated: “You know, probably out of all the Pakistanis, I know India better than all of them. I have had love and respect from India more than any one because cricket is a big sport. It’s almost religion in both the countries.

Khan expressed serious concern over deteriorating ties between Pakistan and India, saying that his Government failed to normalise trade ties with the neighbouring country despite reaching out to New Delhi after assuming office. The Pak PM believes that a “civilised trading relationship” would certainly be beneficial for both the countries. “When I assumed office, the first thing I did was I made this approach to Prime Minister (of India Narendra) Modi and said that: ‘Look, my main objective for coming to power is to alleviate poverty in Pakistan.’ And the best way would be if India and Pakistan had a normal, civilised trading relationship. It would benefit both the countries,” insisted Khan.

Imran Khan

He is of the opinion that the peculiar ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS – an Indian right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary volunteer organisation) that PM Modi belongs to, which is playing the spoilsport. Khan believes that a change in political leadership in New Delhi would help normalise bilateral ties. It could also allow the two countries to resolve all their differences through peaceful negotiations.
Khan further shared his plan to boost ties with the US with the media. He wants the US to maintain similar kind of relation, which Washington DC shares with the UK and India, with Pakistan especially after the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Claiming that Pakistan was a partner of the US in the latter’s “War on Terror”, the Pak PM stated: “The US felt that they were giving aid to Pakistan, and they felt that Pakistan then had to do the US’ bidding.” He added: “Now, after the US leaves Afghanistan, basically Pakistan would want a civilised relationship, which you have between nations, and we would like to improve our trading relationship with the US.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khan explained the growing influence of Taliban in Afghan politics, stating that the signing of the deal in Doha on February 29, 2020 between US and Afghanistan allowed the US troops to return home by September 2021. The deal also diminished Islamabad’s leverage over the Taliban. “The moment the US gave a date of exit, Taliban basically claimed victory. They’re thinking that they won the war. And so therefore, our ability to influence them diminishes the stronger they feel,” said Khan.

Political experts have opined that Imran Khan intentionally avoided the issue of Pakistan-Taliban relation while talking to the US media. The Global Community is well aware of the fact that Islamabad has always backed the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan, apart from providing them with shelters in Pakistani territories. Even the Government of Afghanistan has claimed, time and again, that Islamabad is creating troubles for Kabul with the help of Taliban. It may be noted that Pakistan has been retained on the Grey List, or list of countries under “increased monitoring”, at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) once again, as the Paris-based UN watchdog has judged it deficient in prosecuting the top leadership of UN Security Council-designated terror groups; including Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

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