The ex-cricketer turned Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, came into power last August, when the country was in the midst of an economic crisis. Now, he is about to meet President Trump, in a bid to continue to improve Pakistan’s relationship with the USA.
He will be accompanied to the White House by Qamar Bajwa, Pakistan’s Army Chief General, where the two will discuss Pakistan’s importance in the Afghanistan War, something that the US President has acknowledged in recent public speeches. The goal of the meeting is to try and use Pakistani powers to counter the Taliban, continuing peace talks, and opening up the possibility to reach a mutual agreement.
Still in an economic crisis, Khan hopes to get the US’ backing in what is currently a scary situation for the population of Pakistan. In order to gain US support, Pakistan will be willing to supply information and support against the Taliban, who currently seem to be on the rise again, following the recent distribution of videos on Afghan National Television.
Trump, a property developer turned reality TV star, and Khan, World Cup-winning captain of Pakistan’s cricket team, both came to office after achieving fame away from politics, and the personal chemistry between the two may be decisive.
“A lot will depend on the kind of mood that President Trump and indeed Prime Minister Imran Khan find themselves in,” said Farzana Sheikh, associate fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London.
Pakistan’s military is keeping a close eye on the deal, however. Last year, the Trump Administration cut $300 million worth of military aid for Pakistan, who is still suffering from this blow. Khan believes that the mood may have changed, though,following the recent arrest of Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of a four-day militant attack on the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008. Trump welcomed this news, tweeting “After a ten year search, the so-called ‘mastermind’ of the Mumbai Terror attacks has been arrested in Pakistan. Great pressure has been exerted over the last two years to find him!”
More than 160 people were killed in the four-day militant attacks, and Saeed has been designated a terrorist by the United States and the United Nations. Khan hopes that Trump’s approval of this move will help to create a stronger bond between the two countries. In addition to this, Russia, China, and the United States all know the power that Pakistan has over Afghanistan, meaning that it could be a fundamental ally in peace negotiations.
On the other side of the fence is India, Pakistan’s declared enemy; a war between the two countries nearly started earlier this year, due to the ongoing Kashmir conflict. India wants to closely oversee the possible deal between the US and its neighbour, as the deal could significantly impact India if the deal goes through. Whether the deal will go as expected, or will end in something yet unthought of, the game of forces in the Asian continent is beginning to change.