WHENEVER one head of the State visits another country, he is welcomed by the host country and leaders exchange pleasantries; but the way Prime Minister Imran Khan had been awarded warm welcome in the US and praised by President Donald Trump was unprecedented. Of course, Imran Khan is a legend in his own right as one of the greatest cricketers, an icon in social service field vis-à-vis Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Lahore and Karachi, and Numal College at Mianwali. He has the charisma and is now an accomplished politician who is adored by Pakistanis and millions of people beyond. He is Prime Minister of Pakistan, which has all the ingredients to make it a modern welfare state. It has industrious people, vast areas of land, variegated seasons suitable for various crops and fruits, rivers, large coastline and abundant natural resources. Its mountains and valleys are the most scenic in the world.
Pakistan’s strategic position, which is confluence and meeting point between Sinkiang of China, Iran and Central Asian Republics, is acknowledged by all and sundry – foes and friends alike. Its principle city-port Karachi is a convenient route for Central Asian States for trade with the western and other countries. And with the completion of Gwadar deep-sea port, it has the potential to become a hub of international trade. Having that said, one has to acknowledge the COAS Qamar Javed Bajwa’s untiring efforts and visits to friendly countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US and was able to remove misunderstandings and convince the leaders of the countries about Pakistan’s sincerity. It is indeed due to the excellent civil-and military relations that other countries have confidence in Pakistan’s civil and military leadership that whatever they will commit, it would be honoured and implemented.
Pakistani diaspora in the US also gave unprecedented welcome. An estimated 30,000 people, mostly Pakistani-Americans, gathered at the filled-to-the-rafters Capital One Arena in Washington DC, to meet Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. The stadium has a seating capacity of 20,000, but thousands more were seated in main playing arena, reported Gulf Times. Earlier, when he went to Pakistan House where he was staying, he was given rousing welcome by a large number of members of Pakistani community of Washington metro area and also who came from other states to the US capital and lined up along Massachusetts Avenue near Pakistan House. The response of Pakistani diaspora in the US must be a source of frustration and shame for the former Pakistani Ambassador Hussain Haqqani, leaders of MQM London, the PTM and detractors of Pakistan who did not wish well for Pakistan.
Imran Khan visited the US on the invitation of President Donald Trump, and it was the first summit-level engagement between Pakistan and the United States since both leaders assumed their respective offices. Both leaders held wide-ranging talks at the White House, covering bilateral and regional matters, and also appeared before the Press. President Trump had eulogized Imran Khan and described him a great athlete and a great leader. The focus was on strengthening cooperation between Pakistan and the United States and to bring peace, stability and economic prosperity to the region. Last but not the least; discussion took place on peace in Afghanistan, counter-terrorism, defence, energy and trade with the goal of having enduring partnership between the two countries. Presence of COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa in the meeting was significant; his meetings with American military leadership at Pentagon will help revive military to military relations.
Donald Trump’s decision to invite Imran Khan was not spontaneous but well thought-out, as he seemed to have realized that Pakistan is not a problem but could be solution to the problem. He understands that Pakistan is the country that has successfully dismantled the terrorist infrastructure and network. Since he had promised the nation that he will withdraw forces from Afghanistan, he wants to tell Americans that he did it and convey an impression that the US has been victorious. No doubt Pakistan has had reasonable good relations with the US for over seven decades interjected by certain hiccups; however, with the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan and COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa, there is a hope that relations between Pakistan and the US would be on positive trajectory. It has to be mentioned that military to military relations have been the prime pillar of Pak-US relations.
Pakistan has had good news during the last few weeks including ICJ verdict on Kulbhushan case. Pakistan held epoch-making election for 16 seats in (erstwhile) FATA districts sending a strong message to international community that peace has returned to the conflict zone. However, India and its surrogates are trying to downplay the visit, and India opened fire across the LoC, as it is totally frustrated after defeats at post-Pulwama, Kulbhushan case loss in the ICJ, failure to quell Kashmir freedom struggle and failure in creating a wave of terror during elections in former FATA. Anyhow, Pak-US relations are going to enter a new phase of positivity, and presence of political and military leadership in the meeting was a testimony to the new relationship. Anyhow, Pakistan’s pragmatic policy approach to Afghan crisis has earned encomium not only from the US but also the world at large.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.