Thumbs up for Imran, Gen Bajwa for enhancing Pakistan image in United States

1998

Salahuddin Haider

HATS off to prime minister Imran Khan, and army chief General Qatar Bajwa and ISI chief Lt-General Faiz Hameed for projecting Pakistan’s true and distortion-free image of Pakistan to Americans and American leadership, and got instantly rewarded with fruition. Little did on expect such enormous results as were out after the 45-minute one-on-one closed door meeting between the Pakistani premier and US President Donald Trump.
At their joint press conference in the Oval office of the White House in Washington. The kind of reception Imran was given at the White House was unprecedented. Going through the pages of history, One finds different treatment for different Pakistani heads of State and heads of governments. Late Field Marshal Ayub Khan visited America, wore Dinner Jacket, and was warmly received in the Oval Office. Before his meeting with President Johnson in USA, former American President Dwight D.Eisonhower visited Pakistan, and from Mauripur airport to President’s House in the heart of the city of Karachi, drove in an open limousine , waving at cheering and clapping crowd, lining p at vantage points of the route.
Then came the visit to Pakistan of President Johnson, who invited buggiwala, Bashir Sarbaan to his country. President General Ziaul Haq too was warmly received at the Oval office, by President George W Bush, who came to Pakistan, and played cricket with the then Pakistan captain Inzimamul Haq and others. President Bill Clinton;s visit to Islamabad was just for few hours—4 hours to be exact, but former President and army chief, General Pervaiz Musharras himself confided to this scribe that he had come to Islamabad to sermonize us. He refused to smile, and addressed the Pakistani nation over Radio Pakistan. When Nawaz Sharif visited US to meet Bill Clinton, with Mushahid Hussain, Gauhar Ayub, Sartaj Aziz and several others, media accompanying the premier and those Pakistani journalists based in US like Shaheen Sehbai, and Masood Haider in New York, for official parleys, and media question-answer session.
Nawaz Sharif had developed personal ties with Clinton,and his family photorgraphed with him at the White House, and also got relief for Pakistan army in difficutl times through his rush-visit to Washington in the midst of Kargil fiasco. But Imran’s welcome was different. Seen in the backdrop of this historical scenario, the reception given to Imran was 100 times different than those accorded to others. Perhaps Imran was the only head of government from Pakistan who was received by an American President at the entrance of th White House—rare honour, believably never given to any heads of State or governments before.
President Trump came out of the White House to receive the present Pakistanipremier with a warm handshake, and then volunteered comments that if asked by Imran he would not only visit Pakistan, but would also mediate to resolve or at atleast reduce tension between Islamabad and Delhi on Kashmir issue, hanging fire for 70 years. Inan interview to private TV, foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi confirmed that Imran did invite President Trump to Pakistan. His invitation was gleefully aceepted by Presient Trump.
This was no minor success. Before being at the White House, Imran had already set happy traditions of travelling for nearly 20 hours by a private Airline and as promised at the time of taking over the coveted post in August, 2018,he set an example of staying at the Pakistan House, official residence of the Pakistani Ambassador in US capital. Few chosen people formed his entourage like foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who had been there earlier than prime minister to prepare ground for agenda and meeting arrangements etc, adviser on finance, Hafeez Sheikh, adviser on Commerce and economic affairs Razzak Dawood, army chief General Qamar Bajwa, ISI Chief, DG ISPR Maj-General Asif Ghafoor, and couple more, obviously from concerned ministries to help the premier for the delegation level talks, held after the Oval meeting between the two leaders, and fiesta from President Trump for premier Khan.
Their Press conference, attended by American and Pakistani journalists, based in United States,plus a private channel which had rushed a team of its reporters and camera crew at its own cost for timely coverage of such a historic visit, was exciting and interesting in nature. Prime Minister Imran mad eit clear that throughout his political career, he had been emphasizing for a parleys between Afghan government and Taliban leaders, because there never could be a military solution to Afghanistan crisis. Happily for him and Pakistan, whose image soared high during the visit, President Trump accepted and so did the world that Afghanistan problem had to be resolved through negotiations.