Islamabad: In the backdrop of tensed relations between Pakistan and United States, a new hope for revival of strategic partnership is now emerging with the scheduled visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Washington on July 20.
Imran Khan is due to meet US President Donald Trump on July 22 in an attempt to improve bilateral ties, to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan and contain the rising tensions in South Asia. A senior Pakistani official told Gulf News that Pakistan is ready to go to all extent for peace and stability in Afghanistan and help expedite an amicable agreement.
Confirming the date of the visit on Thursday, Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said that Imran would soon depart on his maiden trip to the US on the invitation of US President Donald Trump during which the two leaders would review bilateral relations as well as discuss regional and international issues.
Political analysts believe the meeting would be mostly focused on Afghanistan conflict after productive meetings between Pakistani and Afghan officials. Pakistan recently hosted the first Afghan Peace Conference, which was attended by key Afghan politicians followed by Afghan President Ashraf Gani’s crucial visit to Islamabad.
The military tension between Iran and US in the region is also expected to come under discussion as PM Imran this week told ARY TV channel: “The conflict is neither in our nor in the world’s interest. It will have damaging consequences for regional countries, including ours [Pakistan]”.
Days ahead of the visit, the US designated a major anti-Pakistan militant organisation Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) as a global terrorist organisation. Islamabad highly welcomed the move and hoped that it would help shrink space for BLA to operate.
Arrangements for the Imran-Trump meeting began months ago. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi earlier stated that Mr Trump had extended an invitation to PM Imran, however, the premier could not travel to Washington earlier because of the budget issue. The US president expressed his desire to discuss “important regional matters” with Pakistani premier, Qureshi said.
Relations between Pakistan and the US have remained tense since President Trump came to power. The US administration also suspended security and other assistance to Pakistan. But at the same time Mr Trump recently expressed his desire to work with Pakistan’s government.
This will be PM Imran’s first visit to the US since he became prime minister last year.