Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan this week advocated for “a reset” in his country’s tense relationship with the U.S., vowing to take decisive action against the “30,000 to 40,000” terrorists operating in his country as requested by the United States.
Khan’s comments came during a three-day visit to the United States this week. The PM also stressed Pakistan would continue to use its influence over the Taliban to facilitate ongoing negotiations with the United States.
Khan participated in several functions in the United States, including a discussion at the U.S. Institute for Peace (USIP) as well as meetings with President Donald Trump as members of the Democrat-controlled House.
The Pakistani premier admitted that Islamabad has been lying about the presence of jihadi groups in Pakistan, refusing to share details about them. Pentagon officials have long accused Pakistan of harboring the Afghan Taliban and its allies in neighboring Afghanistan, an accusation that Islamabad has long denied until now.
While briefing House lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday, the Hindustan Times quotes Khan as saying:
We were fighting the US war on terror. Pakistan has nothing to do with 9/11. Al-Qaeda was in Afghanistan. There were no militant Taliban in Pakistan. But we joined the US war. Unfortunately, when things went wrong, where I blame my government, we did not tell the US exactly the truth on the ground.
Part of the reason was, our governments were not in control. There were 40 different militant groups operating within Pakistan.
Citing a much smaller number (20) for both Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Pentagon has repeatedly referred to the region as home to the largest concentration of terrorist group’s in the world.
Many U.S. military fatalities and injuries in Afghanistan take place in and around its border with Pakistan.
Until we came into power, the governments did not have the political will, because when you talk about militant groups, we still have about 30,000-40,000 armed people who have been trained and fought in some part of Afghanistan or Kashmir.
We are the first government that has started disarming militant groups. This is the first time it’s happening. We’ve taken over their institutes, their seminaries. We have administrators there.
Khan said it is time to for a different relationship with the United States during a joint press conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Tuesday.
“So far, I feel that Pakistan has not really been represented properly in the US. I feel that it is time to have a different sort of relationship with the US — a reset,” he told reporters.
A top U.S. general acknowledged in March that Pakistan is starting to take action against certain jihadi outfits. His comments suggest Trump’s pressure campaign on Pakistan —freezing foreign aid — is beginning to bear fruit.
The U.S. military conceded that Pakistan can do more to combat terrorists on its soil.
Via Twitter on Tuesday, Khan vowed that Pakistan “will do everything within its power” to facilitate efforts to achieve peace in Afghanistan.
“The whole country is standing behind me. The Pakistan Army, the security forces, all are behind me,” the PM told lawmakers on Capitol Hill. “We all have one objective and it is exactly the same objective as the US, which is to have a peaceful solution as quickly as possible in Afghanistan,” Dawn reports.
When he met Khan on Monday, Trump praised the Pakistani leader as an essential ally to reaching a peace agreement in Afghanistan. However, The Trump administration continues to withhold hundreds of millions in American aid over Islamabad’s reluctance to take action against terrorist groups operating on Pakistani soil.