Imran Khan will meet Donald Trump while Pakistan tries to repair his ties

WASHINGTON: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Washington DC to meet with the president of the United States Donald Trump on July 22, when Islamabad attempts to establish a relationship so severely damaged by its long-standing practice of nurturing terrorist groups to achieve geopolitical goals.

The visit, ostensibly following an invitation from Trump, will follow Pakistan ’s purported crackdown on terrorist groups, including the possible “arrest” of Hafiz Saeed, leader of the proscribed LeT. Saeed is typically taken into state custody or house arrest whenever things get hot for Islamabad in the global arena and is quietly released later once international scrutiny fades.

Ahead of the scheduled visit, Pakistan is also professedly cracking down on terror financing to meet criteria set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) although the state itself and its instruments such as ISI has been a supporter of such terror groups. Pursuant to FATF’s latest warning to Pakistan following its meeting in Orlando last week that it could be blacklisted because of lack of action (it is currently on the gray list), Islamabad reluctantly moved against Hafiz Saeed even as it complained that India was part of a rigged jury that sat in judgment on Pakistan ’s actions.

“We feel that we have done a lot. We are also clear and determined to do more. But we would not want the jury to be rigged. And there are already predetermined positions. Be it the statements issued by the Indian minister for finance or by their other senior leaders, publicly calling for the blacklisting of Pakistan ,” Pakistan ’s envoy to the US Asad Majeed Khan said at a think tank event in Washington DC last week.

Ironically, India is also co-chair of the Asia Pacific Group (FATF). Therefore, you put yourself in our position and ask us what our level of confidence would be in terms of the impartiality of the jury that judges our performance. He added.

New Delhi has been and continues to be skeptical of Pakistan ’s actions because leading terrorist figures such as Hafiz Saeed, , Zaki-u Rehman Lakhvi, and Dawood Ibrahim among others they continue to be protected by the state despite the abundant evidence pointing to their participation in terrorist attacks in India. Any evidence, from fingerprints to voice samples, to the captured terrorist alive and his confession in the film (as happened on 26/11) is dismissed as insufficient by Islamabad law. terrorism backing leaders, even though sections of the Pakistan i media itself has called their bluff.

Islamabad’s latest actions of initiating 23 charges of terrorism financing and money laundering against Saeed were described as “cosmetic steps” by New Delhi given its long sufferance of Pakistan ’s subterfuge. But a combination of gullibility and a tactical need for Pakistan in order to extricate itself from Afghanistan appears to have led Washington to accept the bonafides of the latest action, at least on surface, and invite Khan to meet Trump. This despite Trump publicly berating Pakistan over Twitter as a country that sucked up American money while doing nothing for the US and cutting off all bilateral aid to Pakistan .

Pakistan too appears ready to temporarily sacrifice its terrorist proxies because of its parlous financial situation that has caused it to go with a begging bowl to friends and allies, with modest returns. The Pakistan i rupee has plunged precipitously over the past year, hitting close to Rs 160 per dollar, and Islamabad appears to have realized it cannot survive for long without Uncle Sam's munificence.

Amid alarm bells for the economy, even the Pakistan i military, which has lived sumptuously off the economy, has agreed to tighten its belt, and on Wednesday the IMF approved - with Washington's tacit nod - a USD 6 billion loan over a period of three years after Islamabad met a series of stringent conditions.

It is the 22nd bailout package since Pakistan became member of the IMF in 1950.