ISLAMABAD: Famed cricketer turned politician Imran Khan says meeting United States (US) President Donald Trump would be a “bitter pill” to swallow should he become Pakistan’s prime minister in elections later this year, but added, “I would meet him.”
In a press briefing Saturday, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief said he has been a staunch opponent of Pakistan’s participation in the war on terror since it began in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks on the US.
“Pakistan had nothing to do with it,” he said, adding he supported co-operation with the US but not co-opting Pakistan’s military into a ground battle with its own people in the tribal regions that border Afghanistan and where Afghan insurgents hide.
Referring to Trump’s New Year’s Day tweet accusing Islamabad of “lies and deceit” in the war against terrorism, Khan said that the US president scapegoated Pakistan for the US-led coalition’s failure to defeat the Taliban and bring peace to Afghanistan, and that “it was very insulting of him.”
Should he become the prime minister, PTI chief said “yes we would talk,” referring to Trump, but added that the US dishonours the memory of thousands of Pakistani soldiers who died battling militants, as well as that of tens of thousands of Pakistanis who died in terrorist attacks.
“The way the US has treated Pakistan as a doormat is not fair,” he said.
Khan’s observations come amid renewed US criticism and withholding of security assistance to Pakistan over its alleged failure to take decisive action against militant groups hostile to the US.
On Friday, the Pakistan Army disclosed that the US has assured Pakistan that no unilateral action on its territory is being planned despite the suspension of military aid and a flurry of hostile statements.
At the press conference, Imran Khan also said he was committed to “mainstreaming” tens of thousands of madrassas (religious seminaries) in the country.
He said he wants madrassas graduates to have skills that will allow them to find jobs across all sectors.
“We will train their teachers to bring them into the mainstream,” he said, without providing details on how that would be accomplished.