A strategic shift in Pakistan US bilateral ties

A strategic shift in Pakistan US bilateral ties

ISLAMABAD: Leading US Senator Lindsey Graham vowed Sunday to urge President Donald Trump to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to boost Washington's Afghanistan peace efforts.

The Republican — an influential ally of Trump — made the comments in Islamabad after meeting with the Pakistani leader, saying Khan was an "agent of change" and a "new partner" who could potentially help with a peace deal in Afghanistan.

"I'm going to urge him (Trump) to meet with the prime minister as soon as practical," Graham told reporters, saying he believed Khan and Trump would "hit it off" because they have "similar personalities".

"Prime Minister Khan is the agent of change that I've been looking for," he added, lauding the premier's vision for a political resolution of the Afghan issue.

A meeting with Khan, who has declared strong support for a peace agreement in Afghanistan, would leave Trump “far more enthusiastic about the region than he is today”.

“With Prime Minister Khan, we have a unique opportunity to change our relationship,” he said. A previously transactional relationship, based on rewards for services rendered, should be replaced by “strategic engagement”, including a free trade agreement, he said.

While speaking to media, the Senator also mentioned that Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa had hosted a dinner in his honour. He said whatever the Pakistan Army has done in the past 18 months has been the US’ wish for 18 years.

Graham, whose comments add to the growing signs of improved relations between Islamabad and Washington, said the US cannot move away from Afghanistan as it has a lot to do here and Pakistan installing border fence is a positive step. Washington, he added, was mistaken to continuously change its policy vis-à-vis Pakistan. - Agencies